This morning, Jill aka @fizzythoughts, Dawn aka @TooFondofBooks, Kathy aka @bermudaonion, and Candace aka @BethFishReads had a fun ole time tweeting about Jilli Vanilli and the Pixel Chicks Dawn and I being the Pixel Chicks – Kathy and Candace are various rock band personnel). In the span of an hour we went from forming the band, extreme infighting, breaking up, our E! True Hollywood Story, stints in rehab, run ins with disgruntled boy toys, and a reunion tour to get some of us off of the streets. It reminded me of my very first brush with music and “fame” in 1983.
In the 5th grade, the Sundae Spectacular was the big musical event of the year. It was planned and put together by Mrs. Shanner, the music teacher. The premise was to invite the parents of 5th graders to the school on a Sunday evening for ice cream sundaes. The entertainment was provided by 5th graders who tried out. The remaining students acted as servers for the parents.
I distinctly remember the day that Mrs. Shanner announced the program. I so very much wanted to be on stage, not a server. I knew exactly what would put me up there, too. I would sing the theme song to the Greatest American Hero. I went home that night and told my parents that I was going to try out for the show. My dad was very encouraging, never giving any indication that I might not be selected. In fact, he went out and bought me a KTel record with the song on it so that I could practice at home.
I practiced signing that song for a solid week or so before the actual day of the tryouts. It was all I talked about at home. Every day I would walk past the sign up sheet and memorize yet again my time slot. As the day drew nearer, I became more and more nervous, but I just knew that I would dazzle the crowd with my rendition.
The day of my try outs, I kept singing the song in my head, beginning the clock to move faster. All the while, my heart was beating out of my chest. Finally, the time arrived. I walked into the gym where Mrs. Shaner had her piano set up. The principal was also there with her. I told them that I was going to sing the Greatest American Hero and got up on the stage. Mrs. Shanner started playing and I started signing at just the right spot in the music:
Look at what’s happened to me-he
I can’t believe it myself
“Thank you, Jennifer!” Mrs. Shanner exclaimed. “That’s all we need. We’ll be posting the performers on Monday.”
I chocked on that last word and started to blush profusely. This may have been my first audition, but I knew that being cut off was not a good thing. I was devastated, but I held back most of the tears until I got home.
When I told my dad that I didn’t make the cut, he said, “Honey, we cannot sing in our family. We’re known for how awful we sing, actually.”
“Why didn’t you tell me I can’t sing? Why did you let me go in there and make myself look stupid?”
“You were so excited about trying out. I didn’t want to break your spirit.”
Even before I had children of my own, I couldn’t argue with that. Suddenly what my grandmother said about reincarnation and coming back with a singing voice made a lot more sense to me.
So, while I might be J Dutch to Jill’s Jilli Vanilli and Dawn’s MaDAWNa, after hearing me sing you wouldn’t ever mistake me for an award winning singer. You’d be wrong, though. When I was in Dale Carnegie training, I wrote a speech about this same experience. I even sang when I got to the audition. My class awarded me a Dale Carnegie pen for my achievement that night.
When Simon Cowell closes a door, Paula Abdul opens a window.