Friday, July 29, 2011

Movies Revisited... or Why I Started Singing

My childhood was filled with many movies, less than the average child now, for certain, but still, certain movies left a lasting impression on my young mind that has stayed with me over the years.

My first movie memory is of watching either Annie or The Wizard of Oz.

Ever notice in memories, especially childhood memories, how time doesn't necessarily flow in a linear fashion? Anyway, I can't say for certain which movie I saw first, but both movies became my favorites of childhood, and both inspired me to sing their theme-songs, Tomorrow and Somewhere Over the Rainbow, respectively. This started at age three, believe it or not, and I started singing at family gatherings with my mother accompanying me on the piano.

As embarrassing as it is, I used to sing with a turkey baster, because I thought it looked like a microphone. This was a very common sight at family gatherings. This was me at three!

While it's likely I was drenched in music prior to viewing these movies, these movies drove home an innate desire, an unfettered and unconditional draw to sing. I don't recall conscious thought about it, singing just felt right, so I just did it.

Soon thereafter, I started taking piano lessons. A few years after that, I started playing piano and singing simultaneously.

But movies are inextricably combined with my original love of singing and music. In fact, I starred in my first play at age 5. I was the little bird in Are You My Mother? For those unfamiliar, it's a children's book about a little bird who's mother is not in the nest when she hatches, so she goes around looking for her mother - asking a dog, a tractor, and some other humorous, un-bird things if they are her mother. Very cute children's book that I highly recommend.

Even though I was acting at a very early age (I continued to perform in school and community plays), singing was unequivocally my first love, and later at arts school, I found some of the actors in the theatre department to be a bit annoying and self-centered (others became fun and beloved friends), so I disassociated with that aspect of myself, focusing instead on singing. But it's no coincidence that as my other career (besides singing/music), I went into television- and film-making.

Being back in the home where I grew up for the last few months has reacquainted me with some of those early memories. My parent's home is remodeled and we don't have the same television from childhood (thankfully), but I'm here, and I swear, just the energy in this exact location on earth brings back early memories, feelings and experiences.

So, I'm starting to revisit some of those old movies (which I'll explore more in another blog), and it's good to see these movies through adult eyes. I understand subtleties in dialogue, language and cinematography much more than I did when I was a child. I actually get relationship and sexual undertones that I never caught before in movies in Pretty Woman and The Bodyguard - two movies I saw as a pre-teen, and probably way before I could fully appreciate or understand them.

It's worth noting that watching The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner inspired me to write this blog today. Whitney, I know you're out there and I wish you'd read this or listen to someone else besides Bobby Brown and whoever else is coddling you and not telling you how glorious you are and that you need to change your ways. All the drugs and the craziness that have consumed your life (that seem obvious from the change in your voice and persona) for many years now are NOT YOU. Get sober, girl, and please, please, please clean yourself up and start singing again for real. You were so amazing and beautiful and talented. Check out this clip of her doing The National Anthem in her pre-crack days. Never, and I mean NEVER, have I heard someone sing our National Anthem more effortlessly and beautifully. The arrangement was great, and it helped that they (the arranger/music director) changed the song to 4/4, four beats per measure instead of the original three, but her singing was simply sublime. Sublime!

That's all for now, except for this last question:

What during your childhood shaped you? What uncovered for you what you love? What uncovered what is true about you? Share, please.