Monday, February 14, 2011


This song reminds me of when I was just sixteen, a semi-shy junior at Heritage Academy , enrolled in beauty school part time and taking voice lessons... the second time. After my first experience with singing publicly in our high school musical "meet me in St. Louis" I decided that I should take voice lessons over the summer. My voice teacher was a classically trained vocalist, she had a high voice as clear as a bell, with steady strong vibrato and a range that spanned the piano, kind of like Christine from Phantom of the Opera. I adored her voice, I however could not manage to get my low pitched rhaspy vocalizer to produce that lovely clear tone that I dreamed of. We would practice classical tunes, and do vocal exercises "using our diaphragms". No matter how hard I tried, my voice refused to cooperate and that left me and my instructor frustrated and discouraged. I learned to dislike singing. The "shoe" just didn't fit, so I quit after my sessions were done and took a break.

The following year we had a guest voice coach come to our school to do a workshop. I decided to attend, afterwards she had talked me into signing up for just one lesson with one of her teachers, despite my previously developed anxiety attached to voice lessons. Her method of choice was "speech level" singing, which is the use of your natural voice, or basically... speaking on pitch. Sounded interesting. I remember showing up to my first lesson at a piano shop next to Skateland. I was greeted by a young twenty-something guy behind a piano in a small room, he started to play and began by teaching me a few warm-ups that felt and sounded a bit awkward. Here we go again. That's we he stopped and asked me, "have you ever heard of Carole King?". Have I ever heard of Carole King!? Of course, I was raised on Tapestry, I knew every word. He began to play those familiar piano chords of "It's too late" and said "sing it", I remember being nervous and out of breath, heart pounding, but then I started singing "stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time..." before I knew it I was belting out the chorus with my eyes closed "And it's too late baby now it's too late!" I just wanted to keep singing and singing and singing. It wasn't a fight, it wasn't a strain... it just felt right. I actually almost liked my voice. For the first time I was content with the fact that I was never gonna sing like the little mermaid. When we finished the song he asked me "so Brooke, what are you going to do with your life?" I said "I'm going to be a hairstylist, get married and be a mom". He said "I think you should re-think the hairdresser thing... I think you should think about music". Music?! Huh? The thought had never crossed my mind, but it was something to think about. Needless to say that voice lesson changed my life, I thought about it, I took his suggestion and as you all know, I never did finish beauty school. It's been complicated and wonderful, Somedays I wonder to myself "what was I thinking?!" But when you've got it within you, you do what you have to do.

Couldn't find a decent video of the original recording that would allow me to post on my blog, But I found this amazingly raw live performance. The guitar solo in this video is so good it hurts.

How about you?

PS- This post was technically supposed to be posted on Valentines Day, so Happy belated Valentines Day, hope you ate chocolate


  1. I got a little choked up reading this. That guy at the piano store knew what he was doing.

  2. I was standing offstage at the Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR a few years back, about twelve feet from Carol while she worked her magic on a sold-out audience. As she sang, "We had a moment, just one moment / That will last beyond a dream, beyond a lifetime / We are the lucky ones / Some people never get to do all we got to do..." it made me weep. So melancholy, filled with the pain of bittersweet memories, and then she jumped into "I Feel The Earth Move" and I forgot all about the pain. So glad you listened to that vocal coach. 8-)

  3. so funny... i'm listening to tapestry on vinyl right this minute! :)

    carole king is one of my heroes. carole, stevie nicks, carly simon... they're all gems.

  4. Back in the day, I always bought 45 singles because most albums were mixed with a couple of good songs and the rest not so good. The first album I bought that contained all great songs was "Meet The Beatles". The first US album by the Beatles. Off the album is one of my favorite Beatle songs "This Boy". I still have the 33 1/3 vinyl record and play it on occasion.

  5. What an inspiring story! That teacher definitely deserves gold stars. :)

    "Abbey Road" is my favourite Beatles record, and my favourite song from that album... I don't know, it's hard to decide because all of the tracks are incredible!... but it is probably "Oh! Darling".

  6. wow amazing blog!! thanks so much for leave the beauty school!! my history is short in 2005 A pretty little blonde haired girl stole my heart and changed my world 4 ever she sang "Like a Star"!!! thanks for share your life with us your fan's!!♥

  7. Angels and Airwaves album is i empire and the song is secret crowds

  8. "While You Were Here" off the album True To Myself, by Eric Benet. Everything he does is silky smooth, but this song is incredible.

  9. So there needed to be some rules here. First, no greatest hits albums. Second, needed to eliminate Beatles albums because they are all like best hits albums -- and no way to pick a favorite album or song. Third, eliminated Christmas albums -- otherwise easily my favorites would be among the 4,373 tracks of holiday music in my collection. Fourth, needs to be essentially a greatest hits with no duds.

    Still leaves too many. But here goes starting with an obscure gem the vinyl of which I found at Goodwill mid 70's and searched years to find on mp3. Vehicle by Ides Of March. The title song would go with the other day's topic -- overplayed on the radio. Best song would be Home closely beating out One Woman Man. Find this album -- great (unusual) covers of Wooden Ships and Eleanor Rigby. Breaks rule 4 -- couple duds; but I like it all.

    Billy Joel 52nd Street -- his best album, all great tracks... guess Until The Night best track.

    John Fogerty Centerfield -- again all great tracks, title song a classic... but I'm going with I Saw It On T.V. as best track.

    CSNY Deja Vu -- every single track is a greatest hit... however Our House is my pick... and I'd have add CSN the first album and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.

    And Neil Young After The Gold Rush... easily the most worn out vinyl album I owned as a teen... memorized every single word... best track? wow! hard! I like every cut! okay... Cripple Creek Ferry... ehhhh... okay, Only Love Can Break Your Heart (duh!)

    Sweet Baby James... Steamroller

    Tapestry... title track

    In Search Of The Lost Chord... actually like other Moody Blues albums the whole album is one song... but three tracks compose House Of Four Doors...

    And last (just to stop) would be Synchronicity which is pretty much a perfect album... aside from the greatest single hit of the 80's Every Breath You Take... what else? Murder By Numbers.

    And well, two other perfect albums arguably considered the greatest of all time on different lists... Zepplin IV (Rock N' Roll) and Pet Sounds (Wouldn't It Be Nice... nod to 50 First Dates)... of course this also contains the perfect song God Only Knows mentioned quite accurately on Day 1 of this exercise.

  10. My current favorite since it was released in 2009 is of course, 'High Hopes and Heartbreak', which I listen to every day-Smile, Phoenix, Out of the Ashes,When We Were One, on and on, hard to pick only one!

    Back in the day---all of John Denver's albums/songs-'Spirit' and 'It's About Time', 'Higher Ground' were favorite albums, but I loved them All-he was prolific with 31 plus albums released. He wrote with such heart,soul,love,honesty,passion, and social conscious. His "voice" spoke to everyone, young and old.He is timeless. He had rich, powerful vocals, as well. As mentioned before, I knew him and he was a very kind,thoughtful, and generous person and humanitarian.
    (from Nantucketbreeze)

  11. P.S.Part 2--I am so happy that second voice coach encouraged you,Kuddos and a Big Thank you to her! The world would be missing a beautiful and special person, voice,artist, and energy if you hadn't persevered! Yeah, Brooke! You rule!I Love your voice, unique and beautiful,just like you.

    Yes, had chocolate for Valentine's-hope you did, too :)! Happy Heart day every day!
    (from Chatty 'Nantucketbreeze' again)

  12. Belated Happy Valentines day. I love reading your blog. :) cheers

  13. I absolutely love the new look of the blog! When are you going to post again? :)

  14. I remember that workshop! I gained some much needed vocal confidence from her (Debra). I'm so glad that that technique helped you find your niche. You're awesome Brooke!