Here’s another memory forever embedded in my mind. I was in Grade 7 and the big Christmas concert was quickly approaching. Our vocal class was preparing two songs, “Away in the Manger” and that famous Christmas song, “Happy Together” by the group, The Turtles. Remember that song?
“Imagine me and you, I do, I think about you day and night, It’s only r-i-g-h-t…” I have no idea how Mr. Beeston justified “Happy Together” for a Christmas celebration song but anyway…
“Diane, I want you to do a solo for Music Night.”
“Mr. Beeston, you’ve got the wrong girl. There is no way that I can sing alone, in front of all those parents.”
Mr. Beeston seemed unmoved by my response. He continued, “You have a choice. You can sing a solo in “Away in the Manger” or “Happy Together”. You pick.”
Despite my plea to stop such craziness, Mr. Beeston insisted that I be the soloist. There was no negotiation. This wasn’t going to go away. Reluctantly, I chose “Away in a Manger.”
I practiced every day at school and when I got home, I used my hairbrush as a microphone, locked myself in my bedroom and earnestly tried to assume the confident posture of a soloist.
Music Night was on a Friday night. I can remember all the Christmas decorations and bright lights adorning the school auditorium. My class filed onto the platform and grooved through “Happy Together”. For those who have never heard of the song, it’s worth a listen to! For the rest of us, it’s quite a blast from the past!
The pianist started into “Away in the Manger”. I took a step forward and Mr. Beeston gave the cue for me to begin. I opened up my mouth and absolutely nothing came out. I had totally forgotten the words. I went blank. I felt this hot flash come over me; I suppose it was the result of the overwhelming embarrassment that I felt. I didn’t know what to do.
So, I ran. I ran off that stage, through the halls, out the door and all the way home. (which by the way, was about 3 kilometers.) I didn’t stop. It was December and I had no coat on and no boots or mittens. I ran through two red lights and over a number of snowbanks. I didn’t stop until I got into my bedroom.
Mr. Beeston didn’t say much the next day…and I never sung a solo again.
Interesting, isn’t it? In his gentle way, Mr. Hopper encouraged me to keep up with the athletics. (see March 7th post) Mr. Beeston didn’t say anything at all – and I never sang a solo again. To this day, I am absolutely mesmerized by those who can stand up in front of an audience and sing their hearts out!