🎶 Singing through Adversity 🎶

Art by Jennifer Lommers
Art by Jennifer Lommers
I love this poem by Terry Tempest Williams that speaks of healing the world through joy.

Once upon a time,
When women were birds,
There was the simple understanding
That to sing at dawn
And to sing at dusk
Was to heal the world through joy.
The birds still remember what we have forgotten,
That the world is meant to be celebrated.

Through the years, women have celebrated, sometimes through their tears. Many women have learned to face adversity with song. We still hear their melodic voices.

Born Eleanora Fagan in 1915, Billie Holiday spent much of her young life in Baltimore, Maryland. Living in extreme poverty, Holiday dropped out of school in the fifth grade and found a job running errands in a brothel. When she was twelve, Holiday moved with her mother to Harlem, where she was eventually arrested for prostitution. Considered by many to be the greatest jazz vocalist of all time, Billie Holiday lived a tempestuous life. Her singing expressed an incredible depth of emotion that spoke of hard times and injustice as well as triumph. Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, she left behind a body of work as great as any vocalist before or since.

Miriam, the sister of Moses, became the leader of the Hebrew women when they escaped from Egypt. On one occasion she and the women sang the Song of Miriam; it is one of the few songs that survive from the ancient world. She led the song of victory after the Red Sea parted, and God gave abundant water to the people, in the form of a spring,

Country singer, Kellie Pickler’s mother left when Kellie was two years old, then returned and took custody of her for two years. After this, the court returned Kellie to her grandparents when she was 12 and they raised her to adulthood because her father was in and out of jail. But in March 1995, with Kellie’s father in prison for armed robbery, her mother was granted custody. She was in the fourth grade. “She got custody of me for two years,” Pickler said in a February 2006 interview. “During that time, she was physically and mentally abusive of me.” In a 1997 court filing, Pickler’s grandparents said that her mother had moved to Union County with the girl and treated the child harshly. The court restored custody to the grandparents. Her mother vanished again, and Pickler has not heard from her since.

When Pickler’s debut album, Small Town Girl, was released in October 2006, it contained “I Wonder,” a song she co-wrote with Chris Lindsey, Aimee Mayo and Karyn Rochelle. The heart-wrenching tune, which addresses the singer’s feelings about her non-existent relationship with her mother, was released as the second single from Small Town Girl. These are the poignant lyrics:

Sometimes I think about you,
Wonder if you’re out there somewhere thinking bout me;
And would you even recognize the woman that your little girl has grown up to be;
Cause I look in the mirror and all I see are your brown eyes looking back at me;
They’re the only thing you ever gave to me at all.

Oh, I hear the weather’s nice in California;
There’s sunny skies as far I can see.
If you ever come back home to Carolina,
I wonder what you’d say to me.

I think about how it ain’t fair that you weren’t there to braid my hair
Like mothers do
You weren’t around to cheer me on,
Help me dress for my high school prom

Like mothers do
Did you think I didn’t need you here?
To hold my hand?
To dry my tears?
Did you even miss me through the years at all?

Forgiveness is such a simple word,
But it’s so hard to do when you’ve been hurt.

Oh, I hear the weather’s nice in California;
And just in case you’re wondering about me;
From now on I won’t be in Carolina;
Your little girl is off,
Your little girl is off,
Your little girl is off to Tennessee.

Many women have known adversity. They have also learned to sing in the midst of it.

I would love to hear your comments.

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