Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Work Hard, Play Later : Memoir

“Will you please shut up?” My sister screamed. Annoyed and tired of hearing me sing every song that played through the radio. I was the baby child of the three children my mom birth. Getting on my siblings nerves with my loud singing was the norm. Did I care that I was annoying them, not one bit because I knew eventually they would grow to love my voice and that I was destined to be a star. They did not see my potential and they could care less to think of the possibilities I possessed as a young girl. I remembered how it all began when I just seven years old singing with the choir. There I stood little ole me front and center, singing my little heart out with the rest of the youth choir, holding a huge smile on my face. I remember that moment best of all because it is when I recognized my true calling. Over the years I continued to master my craft so that I could be great. I knew that one day I would be given the opportunity to sing in front of many people and not just friends and family.

I had greater dreams and knew that with hard work and dedication it will all pay off. As the great Steven King wrote in his memoir “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” I truly believe in that statement because I practiced daily as if my life depended upon it. I would listen to tunes on the radio and make up my own versions to them. When I entered into High School I was blessed to meet Mrs. Greenwood my choir teacher who was no joke, she was firm with her teachings and very meticulous. Mrs. Greenwood brought out the best in me and pushed me even more to perfect my craft. Since I knew getting a solo in her class was a huge deal I didn‘t hesitate to raise my hand when she asked “Does anybody want to do the solo of the school anthem at the senior pinning ceremony?” About three or four of us raised our hands. The school anthem needed two soloists, a girl and boy. I raised my hand figuring that after all this time of practicing and rehearsing it was time to put my hard work to the test. Mrs. Greenwood looked over at me cautiously with her eye partially squinted, wondering if choosing me would be a great idea, then she asked me to sing the song in front of the class.

Instantly I became nervous as I looked around at the other students, then I slowly stepped forward, took a deep breath, and walked in front of the class. Looking straight ahead, at what I can‘t recall, all that I know is that I was not looking at the other students. I started to sing the school anthem and my choir teacher ushered for everyone else to join in making me get even more into it. I assume I did well because the solo was given to me and this guy in my class name Anthony. On the day of the senior pinning I was a nervous wreck, all that I remember on that day is standing center stage with the microphone in my hand, getting ready to sing my part. Looking into the crowd, I suddenly forgot all the words to the song. I stood there embarrass and in shock. The choir continued to go on without me and well… I just stood there shaking my head, wanting to cry so badly. I had practiced that song repeatedly, how could I forget the lyrics. I was in total awe and respectfully ashamed of myself. I was disappointed and afraid to face my choir teacher the next day. Surprisingly, she had chosen to give me another shot at making it right, when she entered me into a solo assembly competition which happen to be one of the biggest competitions for choirs.

Mrs. Greenwood worked with me every day until the big day. I was told I could bring one person along with me to the competition so I decided to bring my mom. Unfortunately, my mom had to work so my sister Toya agreed to accompany me. Yeah the one who got on my nerves constantly about my singing. As I prepped in the back room to go out and performed, my choir teacher approached me with some words of encouragement by telling me “Don’t worry you’ll do great, I believe in you.” I looked into her eyes and knew that she was being sincere, I owed it to her to excel but importantly I owed it to myself. I took the stage and looked at my audience, then at my sister and finally at my choir teacher then begin to sing. After performing my two selected songs one in Latin and the other in opera, I looked over to Mrs. Greenwood and her face told it all. What made me smile more was the look on my sister Toya face. I could tell that I had gained her belief in me and that meant so much to me. I ran up to my teacher and she told me how proud she was of me, then I went up to my sister and she smiled shyly then said, “You did so good baby” and gave me the biggest hug ever. Finally, I was becoming and growing in the very thing I loved most. I didn’t win the competition that day but it inspired me to keep working hard.

After I graduated High school I continued my singing career and my brother Shedrick took on the responsibility of becoming my manager. Over the years, my brother Shedrick got me many gigs performing at various venues as well as doing radio interviews. In September of 2010, I was given information about an upcoming show for an old school music group called the Dramatics and was told how I could audition. I auditioned for Mr. Willie Ford and he loved me! I was at that point given the opportunity I had be waiting for and that was to sing in front of hundreds of people on a big stage. Well bigger than the stages I was use to performing on. I believe at that very moment I was born again. I was confident, fearless and ready to give my all to the music industry. Every skill I learned from my high school choir teacher, as well as all the practicing to be great would all be worth it.

I found my self auditioning dancers and paying for dance lessons for myself and mapped out what I would do for my portion of the show. I bought performance gear for me and the two dancers I selected and rehearse day in and day out until November 13, 2010 which was show day. When I entered through the back door where the performers were to enter it all became so surreal to me. As we prepared backstage I remember being in the presence of so many amazing performers. I even saw Judge Greg Mathis talking to one of the Dramatics. When it was my turn to take the stage I looked at my now husband, took a deep breath and entered the stage from the left of the Music hall. Standing on that stage in my all black short dress that sparkled, in my open toe shoes, with my curly black big hair, glossed up lips, brown Chinese looking eyes, and a smile that told it all. I opened my mouth and started with my cover song which was Etta James “I’ll Rather Go Blind,“ then right after went into a song I wrote called “The EshaRay Anthem.”

Hearing the audience appalled me for my performance enlightened my heart in a way like no other. I knew my job was not complete and that I had more to do if I wanted to keep excelling but it was my start and my breakthrough moment. No more of me having to deal with questioning myself about my future and rather hard work paid off. My performance and standing ovation was the answer to that question. My future is and will always be me entertaining the world, broadcasting the many gifts God has given me. When you work hard in whatever it is you want out of life, the pay off will be incredible. I looked back at my two dancers and I couldn’t help but smile because I knew they saw how much my hard work paid off. I took a bow, exited stage left, and headed backstage to join the rest of the performers. Practice makes perfect and I will continue to live by that saying knowing as Steven King said, “if God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?” That’s a question I feel is worth asking, along with knowing that when you have talent it behooves you to not perfect it.


  1. You have such a great story! Thanks for sharing! Your memoir really shows the value of practice and persistence when following your dreams. I think your story has elements that everyone can relate to, even if they're not singers or performers. A lot of people can learn from how your practice payed off.

    Strengths: You have a definitive voice that really carries through your storytelling. Everything was so interesting, I was completely captured and invested into your story. When you talked about your first solo performance, I was right there with you and I could almost feel what you were feeling.

    Weaknesses: Work on showing your story with imagery in your words, rather than just telling how things happened. I think this would work especially well your performance towards the end of the memoir. Really get into the details and the feelings so you can take the reader to that auditorium with you. I also think that you could narrow some of the story down-- start with your choir teacher and go from there, but stay focused on just those details.

  2. Great story, but you need to try to show more with less. Rely more storytelling techniques to develop the account further.