I met Andrea Osborne more than 20 years ago. I distinctly remember hearing her sing for the first time and being riveted in place. She has a voice that is alchemical: transforming both her and everyone around her lucky enough to hear it. It wells up from a deep place where there is no distinction between sound and truth. She is in the midst of recording her second cd and agreed to share some words about the process of singing her brave.
PS. There’s a giveaway at the end.
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I’ve been singing all my life. When I was four years old I was infamous in our neighborhood for belting ‘Delta Dawn’ at the top of my lungs on my swing set. In fact, our former neighbor who’s now in her 80s will still bring that up every time I see her.
Our church choir director got me up singing solos at age 9. I spent my life in school and church choirs, endless hours at a piano hacking out notes just good enough for me to sing along to. I sang at my first wedding, and first funeral, while in college. Music became my language. The way I dealt with happiness, with sadness, with anger, with things too complicated for words.
My love for singing also meant a lot of quitting. I didn’t like the competition, the snarking from other girls. In both high school and college I quit choir my senior year – the year I would’ve automatically gotten the best parts, the nicest songs. I’d done all the work to get there. And then I’d stop. It was too much.
Fast forward to middle age. Working in the corporate world, raising a headstrong daughter, married. Family members and friends would come to me for weddings, especially for funerals. It was like singing could help salve wounds, create healing. I never completely understood how much singing has been my way of coping and experiencing until it was taken away from me for a particularly painful event…but that’s another story for another day.
Then life dealt a crushing diagnosis. My wonderful, capable, happy, helpful mother – my rock – was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in the fall of 2010. My first, thought: record me singing for her. That seed turned into a plan and with the help of a few wonderful people from Capitol Broadcasting Company, where I work. I developed a plan to record a professional CD and sell it as a fundraiser for Alzheimers North Carolina.
Somehow doing that music for my Mom helped me do something I would’ve never dreamed, never had the courage to do ‘just because I wanted to’. I ended up recording 14 songs on an album that I’m extremely proud of. The whole process was incredibly healing for me and my parents. They were excited as I’d call after a day in the studio. A professional studio, one I never would’ve even toured without the encouragement of my husband. He challenged me to dream bigger, assured me I was worth the best. I didn’t need to sit in a ragged sound booth with a cheap cassette recorder.
Although I kept thinking ‘I cannot believe I’m doing this, I must be NUTS to think I’m good enough to record in a real studio’ I kept moving forward. It was unreal. Every note of music, every musician, every decision about graphics and photographs…all the decisions made themselves. I’ve never in my life on anything I’ve ever worked on ‘just known’ what I needed to do, felt so ‘in the zone’. Everything fell into place like it was meant to be, and I felt like I’d found home when I walked into that recording studio and put on the headset. I was singing with world class, professional musicians. Too many magical occurrences to list here. But trust me. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Of course I kept battling the requisite shame, but during the project it was like I was in a bubble. I released the album in the fall of 2011. It was amazing and baffling and embarrassing and wonderful. The best part? My parents were over the moon. My Mom kept saying, “I can’t believe you did all this for me!” I’ll always be thankful I’ve had the chance to tell her everything I wanted to tell her with music. It’s quite fitting that she once again, through her Alzheimer’s, helped give me confidence to do something that I would’ve never thought possible.
I assumed that recording would be my first and last ever. But several years later, another opportunity fell into my lap – or more accurately, funding fell into my lap – to create a CD of standards. I hit the ground running. Again, I’m feeling so at home in the studio. The shame monster, the ‘you’re not good enough,’ the ‘you work a corporate job and are not a professional so who do you think you are’ loves to come visit me. But I’ve found when I’m in the music, I don’t even need to tell them to take a hike. They can’t reach me there.
Music is scary. It’s like putting your heart out on the floor for everybody to look at and possibly stomp on. You can’t predict. And so many times, I never know if the music hit the mark. But I’m coming to realize it’s only a small percentage about that. It’s more about me and the music. If no one ever listens, I still went through an incredible, life-changing process. And that’s enough.
Now back to reading my Brene Brown to try to combat all the shame these projects bring on! But as my Granny always told me, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
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I love that woman. I love her mother and loved her granny too. And now for the giveaway: Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Andrea’s first cd. It’s fabulous. And just in case you don’t want to take the chance of missing out on hearing her voice for yourself, you can purchase a cd at her website. They make great Christmas gifts! Comments will close Friday, November 21, 2014. Good luck.