I grew up with quite a few musical influences. I was an 80’s child, with much of my listening coming from the wide variety of music that my brothers and mother listened to. From Metallica, The Cure, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Kraftwerk, Earth Wind & Fire, the Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson, to the “light rock, less talk” type, I’d say I have been exposed to and consumed quite an interesting smorgasbord of genres. There’s one thing that I can say for certain.
I love music.
I don’t think my love and interest for music blossomed until I reached middle school age, when I started listening to the radio on my own time. There were just so many interesting songs and sounds out there that I became quite enamored with music as a whole. I found myself enjoying pretty much any genre out there. Good music is good music. Great compositions, great lyrics, great vocalists, great instrumentalists… I found all of these qualities to be enjoyable across all the different styles of music that I listened to. I love to play the guitar and to figure out the chords for random songs for fun. I loved even listening to instrumental music such as contemporary jazz, classical music, movie and television soundtracks, and video game soundtracks.
There was another thing I realized as I was growing up surrounded by all this music.
I love to sing.
I was caught singing along to the radio quite a few times as I tagged along on the various errand and shopping trips my parents would take. I’d say my love for singing didn’t come out until I got a computer with a microphone and started to record things on my own for fun. I enjoyed harmonizing with the main melody and finding all the harmonies and progressions that would accompany it. When I joined More Than I (4 part male R&B group), Battle Cry (youth choir), and Legaci (3-5 part male R&B group), I enjoyed acquiring and later applying the skills and knowledge I obtained with regards to vocal harmonies. Listening to, imitating and dissecting the songs of numerous male R&B groups was one of my favorite things to do.
However, despite my love for all these things, there’s just one problem.
I hate my voice.
I never really liked my singing voice the way it was. I remember hearing some interview with Harry Connick Jr. on some late night talk show program where he said that his singing voice and style is heavily influenced from Sinatra. He would essentially mimic Sinatra’s style while singing rather than using what he would consider his normal voice. I think I could say the same for my singing. Any time I sang a special number or particular song, I would always try to mimic the style and tonal qualities of the original singer. Whether I did a good job at doing that or not is a completely different matter. It wasn’t until I started recording myself that I was able to hear for myself how I actually did when I sang these songs. Though I would consider myself okay or able to carry a tune, I definitely wouldn’t call myself talented by any means. I guess I could “sing”, but I can’t “sang“.
Though I would say I had (emphasis on past tense “had”) an interesting vocal ability and range in that I sang bass for the youth choir and R&B groups, yet was able to sing tenor and hit the falsetto highs that Philip Bailey hit on the song “Reasons”, I really didn’t think too highly of my voice at all. I often found myself admiring the voices of my peers. I always found myself wishing I could sing like so-and-so, or that I wish my voice sounded like such-and-such, or that I had the vocal prowess of insert-name-here. I really didn’t like my voice at all. I still don’t like it to this day. As a matter of fact, I like it even less now as I have lost a large chunk of my vocal range due to some poor vocal practices on my part. I severely strained my voice while attempting to growl and rasp like K-Ci and did some throaty yelling while mimicking various alternative/rock singers.
The voice I have now is simply the shattered remains of the voice I once had. The voice which I hated at the time. The voice I now hate even more as it stands at an even lower position than the voice I had prior. I don’t know if there’s any remedy or recovery that could be had, but I could definitely tell that I had lost the range and vocal control that I once had. It’s frustrating and disappointing… and it’s my fault.
I really do hate my voice right now…
…but I don’t care.
I love music and singing too much to care whether or not my voice sounds “good” to me. Of all the singing I do, I’d say the singing while worshiping at church is definitely unlike any of the other forms of singing I partake in. I think these worship “sessions” (if you want to call it that) surpass all the singing I do in the car, in the shower, for my parents, and for YouTube and NicoVideo. The obvious reason for this is due to the joy I’ve found. He definitely has given me a new song to sing and has caused me to want to cry out and lift up my voice and shout His praises. Who cares how I sound in this? It’s when I get down to having to “perform” that I can get super critical about my voice. However, it’s when I worship Him that I can ultimately feel unhindered and truly free to sing as it’s unto Him.
I often find myself pondering this peculiar dilemma. As much as I love singing and doing covers, I truly dislike my voice. I wish I had the voice I once had and at the same time I also wish to have the voice I don’t have. Even still, I just can’t help but sing.
As I joked about in a previous post, I suppose I am kinda like the Prince of Lancelot’s tale in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
I just want to sing.
Sometimes, I just wish I could sing better…