Ladies Night (aMUSEment EVent)
I have arrived.
I threw a party for a few friends... nothing but female artists, wall to wall, in a gorgeous candlelit studio. A long corridor framing a stage, with no step up... Just a microphone, creating an invisible line between audience and performer.
I did a sound check... I wasn't worried about impressing anyone- I just wanted to start the ball rolling. Playing something brand new is best- Because I have to focus more on playing correctly than worrying about doing it well. Just give the ladies something easy to follow. Don't embarrass yourself trying to be anything more or less than authentic.
Jeannette was the only one quick to be first, in her own adorably shy way. Right away, I start to circle through the crowd. Again and again and again, "What is her name again?"... "Her voice..." "She's so..." A pattern of compliments and curiosities that will cycle throughout the evening and the lineup.
Brenda is next to take a turn. She has been asking about violinists, and so she is quick to pick up my friend, Jodie to accompany her... People like Jodie are what inspired me to start aMUSEment. During the last aMUSEment event, my friend, Zoie- an adorable young pianist I met at the Lickety Split open mic -brought Jodie as her guest. Since then, with help from friends she made at the party, Jodie had a make over and found a new sense of confidence...
Jodie does not have Facebook. She barely even goes out to open mics. She is a young music therapist, too busy getting by and growing up to explore her musicianship by going out and booking gigs. She is eager to play along with anything and is honing the chops to do it. Her technique is still expanding, but she will learn quickly- when she has the rest of her ducks in a row. It is her ability to try, to relax and let the music flow... to make mistakes and continue moving with the same resolve as before. She has the grace we forget as we get caught up in the mess of booking, promoting, and demanding ourselves to be perfect... How to let go- How to remember this is supposed to be fun!
No one is making a dime this night- Not me, not Sine Studios- (who volunteered their space and equipment for free). Volunteers brought food, and guests brought booze. This night isn't about money. It is about the creative fire burning within us- burning within everyone. The only difference between those who have been invited and those who have not is that WE have admitted it- We are artists. Every woman in attendance is a musician or writer or painter or dancer... No one is merely the audience. It creates a liberating vacuum of inspiration and encouragement. We are of all skill levels, heritages, ages, and socioeconomic statuses... This is where only one thing really counts- A woman's willingness to be shamelessly, apologetically her authentic self.
(I will neglect to describe so many wonderful performances... There were simply too many!)
It was when Rose was approaching the mic... By then I'm feeling fairly warm from my cocktail- Lisa, who looks ready to hit the hay, is telling me she will be heading home shortly... and I stand instantly, "Wait."
Rose coyly pauses, mid-word, standing behind the mic.
"Lisa is going to leave us!"
"Why would she leave us?" Rose asks into the mic, matter-of-fact-like.
A quiet comes over the room, and suddenly the collective consciousness is self-aware, Don't break the seal just yet. We've only just realized what we've created... Here there is a special freedom. Everyone is encouraged to be bare and real and honest. Not just the best selves we can be- But maybe who we want to be... or maybe how we see ourselves... or who we're worried we might be.
"She has to sing before she goes..." I pause and see myself from everyone else's perspective. I realize I've just had a little dramatic flair, a sudden lapse of self-control. Why does that happen to me? I didn't really think this one through before I let myself speak... It's okay. That's what I'm here to do. "...But you have to leave early too, Rose- So never mind... Next- Lisa." I smile and sit. What an incredible life!! This is a playlist I never want to stop listening to- My talented friends, exposing their beautiful souls.
Rose silences the room with an a capella traditional Irish tune... The subtleties in her voice, capturing the sound of her ancestors to endure another generation.
Then... Lisa sings like a record, also a capella, like the accompaniment in her head can be felt in the weight of the air around me. I hear the voice of another lifetime...
Then voices start rising about whether there is a list- "There has not been... It's just been whoever gets up. It's kinda up for grabs... Or you can come tell me you want to play- need to go, and I'll make sure you get up."
Two women raise their hands. Others follow in private...
Of the year aMUSEment has been in existence, this is the first event at which there were actually too many performers~ I should have taken inventory and scheduled around mothers leaving to relieve babysitters... But generally I like to watch the party run itself- I like to leave the line up - up to whoever would take the initiative to claim the attention of the crowd.
This is how I met Dylaina. The room had left the mic become cold for a moment- long enough for girls to start looking at me to ask if they could be next... When she took her guitar and began playing. She shut up the entire room!
"Really?" She asks.
"Two more!" ...The crowd applauds her and insists.
Realizing our time is growing short, I run to the mic after her third... "Wow! Everybody, meet Dylaina. She's a friend of Kirstin's!"
"When Kirstin told me she couldn't come unless her musician friend visiting from out of town could come... I said, really~ your friend is a musician?" pregnant pause, "...and I gotta say, there is an invisible line here that some of us think we need permission to cross. Anyone who walks into this room and takes the mic is a musician in my book! Thank you!!"
There will be a lot of talk in this room tonight about confidence, shyness, extroverts, introverts... Half of us will walk onto any stage you will let us near- Some will wait to be asked. Some will need a glass of wine... Most of us will go on about how we have difficulty talking to people... Even I say this, and I am one of the most outspoken.
My problem is not finding words to say or the nerve to share them... Not anymore. Something about that microphone makes it all pour out, whether I like it or not. (Maybe my "disorder" is a blessing in this light.)
More lovely performers... (oh, damn, I wish I could talk about everyone in detail!)
Michele P. sings a capella, explaining she is also a painter... She always sings to paint! What's more, she creates her gig wardrobe by re-purposing cheap thrift shop clothes.
The room is full of such multi-skilled individuals. Dena is a fantastic hair stylist (she cuts my hair!). Michelle A. is a massage therapist and hoop/fire dancer. Sarah F. also massages. Vanessa writes books and teaches yoga. Ellen is an occupational therapist. I am a speech therapist... We all do many many things with our time........ Sometimes to pay our bills. Sometimes to feed our souls.
Shauna! I cannot forget to mention Shauna... I had not seen her in 4 years? I did not even recognize her! We met in our pajamas, hanging out on the steps of Temple University's graduate housing. She was studying music and has since graduated. She takes the stage and invokes the spirit of womanhood. I can not tell how much of it she is ad lib'ing, how much of it is rehearsed. Her voice is a well-tuned instrument. She inspires others to dance and move. Words cannot capture it...
The Sunflights! Ohh... the darling duo, Claire and Natalie- also allusive in their scarce online presence. Their harmonies blend into a memorizing music to feed the soul.
So so so many lovely performances... I can't postpone this post any longer (it's already been so many months! So, I'll have to leave it at that until our next event~ Except to mention) our humble hostess, Katie... Who graces us with just one tune. She opens a portal to place of placid possibility. Time stands still... and then it is over... For now.
To end, I will recount one last long-winded speech... I told the ladies it was obvious that this has gotten beyond what the fire codes at Sine Studios allows. And I want everyone to tell their friends! I want ladies who sing in the shower or paint in their spare time to come join us~ Live openly and love what we do, without hesitation or fear of judgement!
"I hear a lot about people getting discouraged about whether they will 'MAKE IT'... Well, this is IT! You have arrived. You are who you think you want to be. The question is- how much farther are you willing to go? We can all help one another... We all have talents besides those we share with one another tonight, and we can use those to help each other! Talk about aMUSEment, invite others! There are others in other cities... We can create a network to go wherever we want!"
...Contact me Every Heard on Facebook and "Like" Philly aMUSEment Events (https://www.facebook.com/phillyamusementevents) to hear more about the ever growing network of amazing talented women!