When I was edging ever nearer to 49 or so, I started thinking about my 50 Before 50 challenge. I had done one at 40 and really loved the adventure of it. There were things that I had never done, and things I knew somewhere in my soul that I should do; the one that spoke the loudest was to take voice lessons. It had

The Dulcimer came across the US on a covered wagon. One of the few pictures I have of Great Grandmother and I

been tossed around in my consciousness for years. I love music. In fact, one of my favorite all time birthday challenges was to see 40 live bands before I turned 40! That, was a blast! I descend from a long line of musicians. My great grandmother was still playing the hammered dulcimer late into her nineties. My grandmother, as a girl, played piano for the silent films and taught many students over her lifetime. She was blessed with perfect pitch which drove my father crazy as a vocalist. He says she’d be in the kitchen, and he’d be singing and she might yell, “You sang a C I think that note should be an A.” My dad, in his eighties recently came and recorded some songs in the studio with me!! He still sings like a bird! My dad’s sister (in her mid-eighties) still sings and performs at the Texas Folklife festival and plays the Dulcimer, harpsichord and a myriad of other instruments. My mother’s side had it’s share of musicians. My uncle and his friend recorded a record or two. They even recorded some in Spanish! My mom pulled her ukulele out on car rides and we spent many hours with her family around our big fire pit on the porch of the family ranch singing, and singing. It’s in my blood, but all my life, I’ve been everything but.

Granted, there weren’t many opportunities for vocals in my little town. I played some piano and clarinet, but there was no choir. Frankly, I was pretty shy about

Another 50 Before 50 challenge was to “play a gig”. Here we are just before my birthday in what we affectionately call The Living Room Gig where we played for 40 people… gulp

singing. Some teammates from high school used to ask me to sing some Go-Go’s on the bus, which I obliged a few times, but I always wondered if they were getting me to do it so they’d have something to giggle at later. Kids. Tennis. Travel. Life. Everything just got priority. Something in my center kept pointing me toward music. I finally decided to do a search for vocal coaches in my area. I found the perfect person in Merrily Garrett. During my first lesson, I thought I would cry I was so nervous just to sing in front of her. One person, in a private studio. She promised me that my voice was fine and she would pull out my confidence, teach me techniques and “get the lid off my jar!” She’s an amazing person, coach, friend and life teacher. The universe knew what it was doing, and I am grateful. I told her that someday I would love to combine my love for writing with my new found zeal for singing. I even put “write a song” on my 50 before 50 challenge. (I did not achieve that one before 50, but it planted a seed for sure.) She said it would happen, I just thought, “well, I guess it could someday.” She brought it up from time to time hoping to get me to check that off the list, but life was happening at a fast and furious pace. I just kept the faith that I would do it.

And one day, during my 50th year, I kept thinking about some lyrics I had randomly recorded into my phone and sat down and poured my words, my autobiographical sentiment onto a page. “Gypsy with Me”, my first song, was born. Now, I’m hooked. It’s been an interesting journey! As Merrily predicted, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in front of a mic and I quit worrying about whether what I wrote would please anyone but me. Now, I’ve written three, and am headed to a singer/songwriter retreat this month! This thing is my calling. I plan to heed the call from here on out, if only for myself.

I realized that I needed help with the music part, and that’s when Merrily suggested I meet Eddy Hobizal, producer. I walked in his studio with nothing but my lyrics and the chorus in my head. He sat down at his piano and said, “Sing what you’ve got.” Uhhhh. That shyness, that doubt and that insecurity tried to get in my way, but I was there, and I had a goal. So, I sang (shakily, but dammit, I did it). Suddenly, his fingers were on the keyboard and he was playing my song with me. Mid-lyric, I stopped in utter amazement. “What the actual **** just happened? How did you do that?” I asked. I was a bit freaked out. Just chalk it up to genius and perfect pitch. You sing a note, he knows what it is. He then helped me sort out the melody for the verses and recorded a demo. He’s my co-writer and I’m amazed and thrilled with the process. You always have a special place for your first anything, and to me, this song means so much. So, I hope you enjoy. NOTE: It’s just a demo. It’s not a final, fully produced, perfect and ready song. The lovely harmonies are by my dear friend and vocal coach, Merrily. Be gentle friends, but enjoy. Gypsy With Me by Sarah Rooney and Eddy Hobizal, all rights reserved.