Many years ago, I was singing along with a Kate Wolf cassette as my boyfriend drove me to my new life in Utah. I never sang in front of anyone. I was raised with horror tales of how our family couldn’t sing, and mockery when I inadvertently sang out loud in the house. One reason I loved going to church was because we had to sing, and in the chorus of the entire congregation I could sing as loud as I wanted and I seemed to blend in. So we’re cruising along Hwy 40 across Colorado in April, windows down, and I’m unconsciously singing along, not thinking for a minute that he’d be listening, and he says with a big grin, “You’re a perfect fifth!” I clammed up immediately. I didn’t know what he meant but I knew it couldn’t be good. A long time later I realized it had been a compliment, and that I’d been singing harmony. It was a hard lesson: to have not asked a simple question, and suffered for years afterward because of it. What if I had said, “What do you mean?”
A couple of decades later, a neighbor invited me to sing “Amazing Grace” with her and the choir at Miss Joanie’s funeral, and I demurred. She insisted, and I learned the song, and I stood up there in the Methodist church at the funeral of our mutual friend and sang six verses of “Amazing Grace.” Probably not harmony, but not badly either. I’m so grateful to Millie for encouraging me to sing and supporting me up there, and I wish I hadn’t lost that auction certificate for a free voice lesson before Karen Mills moved out of town. But oh well. I still sing along happily with anything that comes along, just yesterday belting out “American Pie” in perfect harmony with Don McLean, alone of course except for my little dog and cat, now restored to a delicate harmony of their own.