Like many, I grew up listening to the vinyl albums in my parents' record collection. My father was a pretty decent baritone and had a solid collection of albums by prominent singers of his time, eg, Perry Como, Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis. In my bedroom, I secretly played these albums and sang along...when no one was around, that is, for I was told by certain family members that I couldn't sing and should stick to the clarinet.
When my high-school choir director discovered my voice at a musical theatre audition during my sophomore year, she grabbed me by the ear, dragged me to the corner of the gymnasium and hissed sternly, but affectionately, "If you don't sign up for choir next year, I'm going to pull this ear off."
I do as I'm told, and the next year I signed up for choir. Soon, I was singing in nearly every ensemble possible, from choir to pop group. I began taking private voice lessons, and singing rapidly found its place, along with clarinet and theatre, on my shelf of favourite activities.
My poor parents just shook their heads as they saw me dive right into yet another artistic endeavour that would cost them a good penny to support. I look back in admiration and with intense love for that support, unwavering and nonjudgemental.
"Jenny", by Johnny Mathis (words and music by Paul Vance and Jack Segal) was the first song I ever sang as a solo at a school assembly during my junior year. When my choir director asked what I wanted to sing and I presented this song, she didn't bat an eyelid. Yes, it was exceptionally anachronistic, and I have no doubt it caused a good bit of head-scratching among the students and faculty. But I had grown up with the song, and it seemed only right for me to sing it. And sing it, I did, trembling and ready to faint at any moment. And at the end of the song, there was applause, from my teachers and fellow students. The appreciation was hesitant, but I was happy to hear it after many years of being told to shut up while singing along with the radio.
To me, it was official. The geek could sing.