I started the surprising journey that has been my life under the endless prairie sky of Clara City, a Minnesota town of 1,000 people. I spent a lot of time lip-syncing to Janet Jackson with a hairbrush “microphone” in my mom’s beauty shop mirror. I fantasized about singing professionally, but my dreams were capped by fear.
My first blow came when I applied for a choral music scholarship at the college I wanted to attend. I was not even granted an audition. Singing was what I had been known for in my hometown. Not even an audition? It was an early lesson in rejection.
After completing my degree in music education, I taught music in a small town. I started experiencing debilitating panic attacks. With the help of incredible friends, I moved to Minneapolis and started claiming things I loved, including singing at coffeeshops. I got my first club gig as a jazz singer. After my first performance, the tightness around my heart began to release. I realized life is not about being trapped in fear. Now I live in New York City and travel worldwide as a jazz singer. My latest album “SHE” is focused on the power of women’s stories.
My pivotal moment with music came when I was sitting alone at my college dorm room desk and heard Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion.” Tears streamed down my face. Sonically, the song is filled with things I love: aching, soulful guitar; the groove; a backup gospel choir; and Lauryn’s powerful, sacred voice. But what reached into such a deep place is the message of the song — embrace a greater calling, no matter the norm around you. It planted the seed for me to honor the divine part of self that asks me to stretch out into the epic unknown.
Describe a time when you began to recognize something as part of a spectrum, rather than a “this or that” categorization. Or share what binary division you wish to see erased.
Send up to 300 words by May 10 to [email protected]