Hi everyone! I’m Michelle from Boomer Eco Crusader. Thank you to my friends at T.B.C… for asking me to be part of this series.
When they asked me to write a piece about my first time, I thought it would be tough to come up with something. At my age, the first-time milestones people celebrate are so far in the past, it’s hard to remember the details. That said, I like to challenge myself to experience new things, so that’s what I’m writing about today.
Five years ago, I fell in love. Now it’s not what you think. I’m referring to the moment I fell in love with singing with a rock band in front of a live audience. It was a moment that changed my life.
I’ve always loved to sing. As a child, I would sing with my grandmother while my sisters were at school and my parents were at work. Growing up, I sang in the school choir. As an adult, I sang in church choirs, in my car, and on the occasional trip to a karaoke bar. I even tried my hand at singing opera when my daughter Laura and I were in the shepherd’s chorus for Opera Kitchener’s production of Amahl and The Night Visitors.
But, despite my passion for singing and my love of classic rock, I never experienced singing on stage with a live band until about 5 years ago.
In May, 2016, I attended a work sales conference in Niagara Falls. One evening’s activity involved dinner on the river flats at the foot of the falls. What an inspirational setting! After dinner, a live band started to play. Being a big fan of live music, I remember thinking “This is cool. Live entertainment!” After warming up the crowd with a few songs, the band invited anyone who wanted to, to join them on stage for a song. I was intrigued because I’d never heard of karaoke with a live band.
Fortified by a few alcoholic beverages, some of my colleagues got up to sing. I watched their performances with interest. Thinking I’d like to give it a try, I wandered over and started thumbing though the book with the list of songs. When I saw Under Pressure on the list, I knew it was meant to be.
I added my name to the list and waited for them to call me up on stage. When my turn came, I anxiously took the stage. The opening bass riff of Under Pressure is pretty recognizable so, as soon as the song started, people gathered in front of the stage.
When I started to sing, the crowd gathered in front went crazy. As I sang, the crowd got bigger and the cheers got louder. It was such a blast. I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. For the rest of the evening, and the next day, everyone was raving about how much they loved it and asking why they never knew I could sing like that. I felt like a rock star!
I was so energized by that experience that I realized I had found my passion. A couple of days later, when I dropped my daughter Laura off for her rehearsal at our local School of Rock, I went in and registered for their adult Grad School program.
I spent three years with School of Rock, and loved every minute of it. As we prepared for our seasonal shows, the weekly lessons and rehearsals pushed me outside my comfort zone and challenged me as a vocalist. I had the opportunity to sing some unbelievably demanding music by some of the greatest vocalists of all time – Freddie Mercury, Burton Cummings, Robert Plant, Lou Gramm and Dolores O’Riordan, to name just a few. Along the way, I gained a new-found respect for the amount of talent it takes to get up on stage and be the frontman for a band.
In the Arena Rock show, I once again had the opportunity to perform Under Pressure in front of a live audience. I wish I had video of both performances. It would be interesting to watch them to see how my vocals had improved since that evening in Niagara Falls.
There isn’t a lot of video of my time with School of Rock. But, here’s a link to a clip of me singing lead vocals on Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog in our British Invasion show.
Sadly, our local School of Rock closed two years ago. After it closed, I started getting together with a small group of former students once a week to jam. Then, the pandemic put an end to that. Not having that in my life has left a huge void.
There is no greater feeling than singing with a band. It’s exhilarating, and such a great energizer and stress reliever. The greats make it look easy, but it takes 100% focus to pull it off.
When I drove to Niagara Falls for that conference five years ago, I never dreamed what a life-changing experience I was about to have. I hope once the pandemic is over, I can find another tribe to sing with. There’s a hole in my heart that only music can fill.
The Author & Illustrator
You can keep up with the wonder that is Michelle Oram, and her very useful and soulful posts about respecting our environment by clicking on the link to her blog, twitter and instagram feeds. She is a force to be reckoned with!
All illustrations provided throughout #MyFirstTime are original, bespoke works of Monty Vern. Monty has also created “My First Time…Behind the Scenes” – a companion series to #MyFirstTime. In this series Monty allows us to take a walk through his mind when creating images for #MyFirstTime. A collaboration in every sense, when you get a glimpse into the inner workings of a creatives mind! Keep up with the whole series by following T.B.C and Monty Vern.