Wednesday, October 01, 2008

No Rocks a-Cryin'

So, yesterday afternoon, I left work a bit early to go to a concert. But wait...not just any concert, mind you. This was the Southern Invitational Choral Conference High School choir concert. Why, you ask? Well, see, there was this one soprano singer who has stolen a large piece of my heart. (hang on...this will make sense & be OK in a minute; I promise!) Lovely young lady. Delightful conversationalist. Friendly & outgoing. Great personality. And did I say lovely? Also, she looks a bit like her mother, who stole a huge piece of my heart over 25 years ago. This particular singer changed the entire trajectory of my life nearly 18 years ago. (Actually, in a couple of weeks, it will be 18 years ago) I'll never be the same because of this singer, and I am so grateful to my God and to her.

I literally watched her take her first breath. And hers was a miraculous birth. Labor just stopped progressing. The Dr. said "I have a hunch..." And so, she was removed. The hunch was justified. The umbilical cord had become wrapped around her neck a couple of times. Had her birth process gone forward without the intervention...well, let's just say that chord-wrapped babies tend not to do too well if they survive. I will always be convinced that the Great Physician chose to stop Lisa's labor and thus protect the lovely singer I'm speaking of...Rebecca Anne Madaris. My daughter.

Anne has loved singing from the time she was a little baby. At first, it was Lisa and/or me singing to her. (Aside: there may not be a more "all-is-right-with-the-world" feeling than singing to a little one as his/her eyes shut in the evening...we sang hymns, plus a wonderful song called "Dolphin's Lullabye" by Firefall--one of my favorite songs ever). Then she wanted to sing with us. Then to us. Then she would sing without us. As she grew, her singing became how we knew she was awake in the morning & ready to get out of the crib. She sang alot. Still does. Most mornings, I'll hear some song belted out--very well, I might add--by my daughter as she does her flossing & moosing & hair curling & hair straightening & whatever else goes on in her room as part of preparing to take on the day. (It's quite a process, but the result is a gorgeous young lady!) These days, Anne's working on putting together a complicated puzzle; thus, the other night I was watching football and being serenaded at the same time. Only, she didn't even realize she was serenading me; she was working on finding puzzle pieces.

These past few years, Anne has been part of the school chorus and of the select ensemble. (Thank you, Barbara Stephenson!) Along the way, Anne developed a very good and strong soprano voice. Her lifelong singing plus a love of listening to many kinds of music has helped her develop a good ear. One of the more awesome life moments I've had (in the real sense of the word...struck with awe) was last year when Anne sang "Till There Was You" as a solo at a concert.

Last year and this, Anne has taken voice lessons through the Carey Institute of Fine Arts from a marvelous teacher, Dr. Connie Roberts. Dr. Roberts has taught Anne techniques that have improved her vocal talent even more. Connie regularly tells me that Anne is very good, and talks of Anne's music future.

I've always thought Anne had a good voice. It's a genetic thing. Lisa has a great alto/2nd soprano voice too. Me? Well, I can pretty much carry a tune...and if I turn up the music loud enough, I can sound just like Chris Tomlin or Larnelle Harris. (or even Leslie West, of Mountain...) But the thing is, there are now other people "in the business" as they say who are telling me that Anne is a good singer. Who am I to argue with the pros? *winks*

So, there I was yesterday, sitting in an auditorium listening to my baby girl and a couple hundred other invited HS singers absolutely knock 3 songs out of the park. One was called "The Famine Song" which I'll get to in a minute. One had a Latin name & words; pretty song, but I wasn't sure if it meant "Lord come help us" or "Dang! My zipper's stuck"...*grin* The third had a spiritual, clap your hands & move with the music feel. It was called "No Rocks a-Cryin'" based on an incredible passage of scripture in Luke 19:37-39:

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

(aside: if you happen to think that worship should always be somber and quiet, you should perhaps re-read this passage...)

I'm not a good enough writer to fully capture what happened in my soul yesterday as my daughter was up there belting out how there would be no rock a-crying because she would praise her Lord. (paraphrase alert) I didn't cry, but I sure thought about it...*blush*

Now about the song "Famine." Inspired by a visit to the Sudan, where famine & poverty & war are taking an eye-popping toll on the people. The writer--a young man not yet 30 when he wrote this--was captivated by the ladies & their children weaving these amazing baskets to catch water in to help make life a little less harsh during a time of drought that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. This song really did make me lose it, but I got it back together without totally embarrassing all of y'all. The groove is very slow and moving and haunting all the way throughout. The volume rises and falls. Dissonant chords and lovely harmonies blended together. An anguished sort of feel, with some triumphant parts thrown in there. Then the end: Anne & the others snapped their fingers randomly & not in rhythm. It sounded for all the world like rain, which of course is the intent. An awesome effect.

I grabbed the lyrics to Famine, just so you'd know. I'd say "enjoy" but this is not a particularly enjoyable song. Oh to be sure, it is a gorgeous song, but it goes & grabs your soul & makes you aware of the pain & anguish others face--not an enjoyable thing! But one I'm glad I experienced.


Ease my spirit, ease my soul,
please free my hands from this barren soil,
ease my mother, ease my child,
Earth and sky be reconciled.

Rain, rain, rain.

Weave, my mother, weave, my child,
weave your baskets of rushes wild.
Out of heat, under sun,
comes the hunger to ev’ry one.

Famine’s teeth, famine’s claw
on the sands of Africa.

Rain, rain, rain.

(lyrics end; back to Mike)

Anne, don't ever let a rock cry out on your behalf! Keep on singing, doodlebug, and know that there's this oh-so-hot old man who is crazy about you and who has loved all 18 years of the songs you've sung with your voice and with your life, and who is so very excited about what the next pages of the score have in store for you.

I love you!

p.s. - for those of us like me who are...vocally-challenged, let's say...we don't need to let a rock cry out in our place either! My Lord is not so interested in the quality of the notes we sing, but rather in the heart of praise we bring. My slightly-off-key, voice-cracking version of Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone" sounds great in the ear of my Lord & Savior. So let's all let 'er rip and keep the rocks silent!

p.p.s. - Want to hear "The Famine Song"? Here it is, thought not by Anne & that group. This version has some pantomine & dance-ish movements; I'm not sure if those work or not, but the music is great.

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