I don’t put stock in fortune cookies. I know full well that they’re written by underpaid workers in San Francisco. But I have to admit that when I opened mine last week at PF Chang’s I got a little shiver.
I’ve never before had one that was at all specific, you see. Always “you will receive great riches” or “friendship is your greatest asset” or something. But this one:
In case you can’t see the photo for some reason, it says: “An interesting musical opportunity is in your near future.”
Strange… How much of the population would actually welcome an “interesting musical opportunity”?
I kept it for that reason – that it was so strangely specific.
And, well, it looks like my near future was nearer than I realized.
Last year my college choir buddy, Lyndon, performed with his band, LP7, at the San Diego County Fair. I had just reconnected with him on Facebook, and I dragged my husband with me to see the performance. I remember thinking that I could totally sing backup – his backup singers were great, but I already knew at least half of the songs’ backing vocals without trying.
You see, it’s an odd talent of mine that I can sort of pick apart the vocals in a song on the radio, and I’ve always always been able to hear the backing vocals just as well as the lead ones… I thought it was how everyone heard music, until I was singing along to the radio one day and my dad asked me what on earth I was singing, and then how on earth I could hear that harmony. It served me well during my years as a Teaching Assistant in the UCSD Gospel Choir – if the tenors or altos or basses needed extra help, I could easily pick out and sing their part with them, and then go back to singing soprano.
Anyway, it turned out that one of Lyndon’s backup singers was moving, shortly after last year’s Fair performance. I sort of half-jokingly said, “hey, if you need another backup singer, let me know!” Over the intervening months, it came up a couple of times, but we determined that it would be pretty difficult for me to make practices in North County on weeknights. So it was sort of tabled.
But… This Tuesday morning I got an e-mail. Lyndon’s band had a gig at the fair and he really needed a backup singer. Even though it would be a tough timeline, did I think I might be able to make it work? Would I be interested?
Hmmm… An interesting musical opportunity?
In college, the group of us choir friends used to mess around vocally after practice – think about how the kids on Glee are always playing with songs. We’d just choose a song and play, finding harmonies. Musical people are like that – my old coworker Jeff and I would sit and harmonize for hours at work – and it’s an unique cameraderie.
I already knew how well my voice blends with Lyndon’s (some people have voices that go well together – it’s in the vocal qualities – and others just don’t). I only considered for a few minutes before writing back – YES. I did ask my husband whether he was okay with me practicing in the evenings (not for permission, but for his blessing, since it’ll mean some nights where he has to fend for his own dinner!); his response was that singing made me happy, so of course.
Now, it’s not glamorous being a backup singer. Lord knows, it’s probably not something I’d want to do for a lifetime. But we had two rehearsals so far, and I am relishing singing three-part harmony again… It turns out that my voice also blends really well with Rebecca’s (the other backup singer). It sounds SO good. And it’s coming fairly easy – there are some original songs in the set, so I have a lot of words to learn, but I can hear most of the harmonies I have to sing without really worrying. There were even a few songs where the band started playing and I started singing on the right notes, no preparation needed, which was insanely cool.
It’s literally been years (almost a decade? can it be?) since I performed in public – growing up, it was rare for me to go a month or two without being on stage. So I’m a little nervous, but mostly incredibly excited.
Our performance is coming up on June 15th at 3pm at the San Diego County Fair. Tickets can be purchased at any Albertson’s for only $3! I know it’s not a time that will work for everyone, but I’d love to see you there if you can make it!