Last week our youngest celebrated her ‘30 something’ birthday – and what a start to life she’s had!
It all began one day when I thought someone had left the radio playing upstairs – only to find one of our girls (then a 3rd grader) singing to herself… unaware of how good she sounded. What followed, in the years leading up to womanhood, saw her enrolling in singing lessons, joining a band, playing at some of Toronto’s top clubs and winning a government grant (to produce an introductory CD)… we all thought they were “on their way.”
When their CD came out, the original songs were well received, but her warm, “pitch-perfect” voice seemed buried in the instrumentation background. Apparently, this was deliberate as it was considered in vogue. We all wondered why, if the group had this “ethereal” voice, it wasn’t featured along with those intriguing lyrics emanating from her heart.
“And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out,
There’s no way the band can lose” – Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder
Plus, after she came back from an international jazz festival in Poland, much of the production arrangements – creative input she’d been promised – had been completed. Whatever the reasons, it seemed like a lack of faith – something she highly valued.
“How on earth did I get so jaded? Life’s mysteries seem so faded” – Runaway Train by Soul Asylum
The management entertainment team who signed her because she wrote (let’s say) ‘Green’ music, now expected her to write ‘Red’ music’ – because that was getting radio play. Not wanting to copy someone else’s style, she explained, “Dad, even if I’m successful doing it their way, but I’m not happy, is it worth it?” She and her group voted and made the hard decision to disband – two going on to earn their music degrees.
Worried her career talent would never sustain past this point, I talked with Canadian folk recording legend Valdy, who after hearing the story, graciously invited her to write some lyrics for his new album. Being a father himself, I believed he was moved to offer help because he didn’t want to see any young artist’s future in music die. With such dedication to the arts, no wonder he’s been awarded the ‘Order of Canada’ for a lifetime of individual and social responsibility. She was grateful for his support – we love him – yet, in the end, felt she hadn’t earned the right. Valdy understood.
“Runaway train, never goin’ back,
Wrong way on a one-way track”
I just wasn’t seeing things through her eyes. As much as I wanted it for her; it was her life. No matter how well-intentioned my urgings were, I had to let go or become ‘another brick in the wall’. I could never control all the outcomes in life, why act as if I could?
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Letting go was a challenge. But her forgiveness and an old piece of paraphrased scripture saved the day for me: “It may not come when you want, but when it does it’ll be right on time.”