Faith in a Song

February 16, 2011
By heartsing11 BRONZE, Mansfield, Connecticut
heartsing11 BRONZE, Mansfield, Connecticut
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment

The first line never lets me down. Most of the time, I still don’t know what I’m thinking. But it’s always a sign that I should grab my laptop and sprint to the nearest piano. From there, it unfolds one note at a time, somehow bypassing my head and coming straight from the heart. Thirty minutes later, I’ll head back, done for the night.

That’s how every song of mine is born – it’s something that comes to me when my mind has subconsciously made a discovery. Sometimes the lyrics are obvious, expressing a pain I’ve been denying or an optimism I’ve been feeling in a clearer way. Other times, I actually need to search, analyzing the lyrics and my life to figure out where the song came from. But as much as music keeps me together, I’m convinced that it’s even stronger on a worldwide scale.

One of the last nights in August, I looked around me and found that I could recognize faces in the crowd, a whole community that I had come to know. There was Clayton, the trend-setting open mic whistler, Bruce John, the singing dinosaur of my childhood, and Ruth, with her firm conviction and strong voice. Looking straight ahead, I could see the organ loft, traced its long pipes with my eyes, and felt the calming openness of a high ceiling and translucent stained glass windows. My voice rang through the space with a startling clarity and energy, a perfect note to end on.

Although the place had been turned into the base of the Willimantic Soup Kitchen, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 220 Valley Street brought back memories of faith – that performance was the end of a summer built on a guitar, a voice, and the belief that those two things had the power to connect strangers. As I began my next song, more faces flashed before me, more than enough to fill any empty seats. I remembered Rianna, who barely came up to my belly button but who knew my songs by heart and loved to sing along. There was the CoventryFest director, who had stopped me as I left the stage to tell me that the song I wrote and performed about my dad had almost made him cry. I couldn’t help but smile at the two little girls who had stood at the edge of the pizza restaurant, nodding with the beat, until their mom dragged them out. Or at the teenagers who broke out in an intense interpretive dance during my cover of a Taylor Swift song. I saw the first person to ask me for an autograph, remembered the rush of appreciation, and how I laughed at myself for not having practiced a fancy signature. And just as vividly, I remembered the one smile within a sea of rowdy and inattentive faces that gave me the courage to continue.

That night, I knew I would be back at school in a week, that I wouldn’t be performing like this again for several months. But I also realized that, whatever happens, an entire community held together by music will support me – all I need is faith in the power of a song and the heart to sing it.

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