Last week I wrote about a power outage during my big solo in “The Wizard Of Oz.” But what I didn’t tell you, was on that same fateful week, a fellow musical thespian and I also had a brush with stardom…
I met my closest high school friend at a birthday party. A small group of us girls were hanging out in our pajamas, eating snacks, and talking about boys, when someone turned on the radio and “Wind Beneath My Wings” was playing. Another girl and I immediately and enthusiastically jumped up and burst into song. We had never talked much up until that point, but Bette Midler has a way of bonding even the unlikeliest of souls. Genevieve and I were instantly inseparable. Ours was a friendship built on outlandish handwritten skits, the worst of 90’s fashion, and eccentric original music. Everywhere we went we sang and it wasn’t long before we were writing our own songs and singing them for anyone who would give us a minute of their valuable teenage time. During the aforementioned production of “The Wizard Of Oz” we had a little break in our rehearsal schedule. Genevieve and I decided to take advantage of the magnificent acoustics in the high school gymnasium and try out one of our latest compositions. We each took a deep breath and started singing. I don’t want to brag, but it really was beautiful the way our harmonies wrapped around one another and filled the empty space with lush sound. You couldn't tell where my voice stopped and hers began. Everyone turned in our direction. The director of the play appeared completely enchanted. He sauntered up to us, wearing an expression of dumbfounded bliss and said, “You two are simply amazing and I want to manage you.”
What followed was a dinner meeting with our families, where our new manager told us a tale of his acquisition of an antique photo, whose subject was two young girls- one blond and one brunette. He had been mesmerized by the photo upon seeing it initially, stating that it drew him in and that he just knew it was somehow metaphorical of things to come. Now, tearing up as he spoke, he saw it as nothing short of a miracle that Genevieve and I had auditioned for his play and had decided to sing our song in front of him. He surmised that my friend and I were symbolic of the girls in the photo. We signed a contract. And so began the recording sessions, the release of our CD, a regional tour of Genevieve and I singing karaoke style to our own recordings with choreographed dance moves, radio & television interviews, in-store merch signings, and photo shoots. We were only 17. So essentially, the stakes were set pretty high right out of the gate with regards to my musical endeavors. That’s why it can be so frustrating to work as hard as we do in Hot Pink Hangover for what often ends up being a small trifle of satisfaction. There are little victories, yes, but I had it handed to me on a silver platter the first time around. Sadly, it usually isn’t that easy… As I’ve learned in every musical formation I’ve been in since. Be it a cover band, hip hop, Americana, country, pop, punk or avant garde- it's all a ton of work. Granted, Genevieve and I did work- but not as hard as our poor manager. He was selling off his original John Lennon drawings and sleeping in his car to ensure that we got to the next town.
After a futile year attempting to transform Genevieve and I into starlets, our manager was financially and emotionally ruined. He had gone bankrupt, went through a divorce, had a heart attack, sold all of his valuables, lost his theater company and eventually died. He was a novice manager and he made mistakes, but he had a genuinely good heart. I still have the first check he ever sent me from CD sales we made to a record store. I kept it as a memento, as opposed to cashing it. Genevieve and I grew up and went our separate ways, but it was an experience that made a true impression on me for what is possible.
As musicians, we’re told to perform like there’s an influencer in the audience at all times. There may only be one person out in the crowd, but they also might be a record exec- so play like you mean it… And I do.