Thursday, April 8, 2010

And She Sang

It was 1958 in Bronx, New York. Amateur night at The Apollo, which was a regular Wednesday night event. At the young age of 21, and ready to make her debut, she reluctantly wandered onto the stage with nothing but courage and anxiety as she attempted to fulfill her lifelong aspiration—to sing at The Apollo.

It wasn’t a painless task to defeat, but singing at a venue other than The Apollo could have been an easier endeavor to complete, but not amateur night. This was a night that if the audience didn’t like you, not only do they boo you and throw vegetables at you in unison, they pull you off the grandstand with a giant hook to ensure you’re off the stage and out of view of the well-known patronizing audience.

Young and platinum blonde, she started to sing in front of an all-black audience who were used to listening to nothing but Motown and the blues. Even though her stomach was fluttering with butterflies, it didn’t stop her from walking out onto that stage to continue her hopes and dreams of becoming a professional singer.

As she opened her mouth, the beautiful sound of her voice came ringing out and filled the amphitheater as the audience looked on with awe. Who was this white woman singing the song “And This is My Beloved” with such talent and grace?

My mom.

I have always heard this story while growing up, but at the time when it was initially told, I could never really fathom the magnitude to which it should have been appreciated and understood.

Don’t get me wrong, I always looked at my mother with awe and admiration, but since I wasn’t blessed with a beautiful voice like hers, I never fully grasped the extent of her dreams.

At the time that she sang at The Apollo, she was a young bride filled with naiveté and a yearning to perform. After her singing debut, it wasn’t long after that she was approached to sing professionally as a backup singer with Harry Belafonte. As anyone could imagine or hope for, this was a dream come true. But for my mom, it couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time in her life. She was a few months pregnant with my brother, and really had no desire to tour and live her life on the road, all while she was about to embark on a new dream of her own—motherhood.

I love my mom and I have witnessed her talent firsthand, so I know that even though she chose to give up her dream to be a singer and performer to be a wife and a mother, I will always look at my mom and her accomplishments with acclaim and applause.

I am proud of you mom, and in my eyes, you are the most talented and brilliant woman in the world!

I love you - Suzanne

wedding photo of my parents, Al and Barbara Maestri - August 10, 1958

2 comments: said...

So sweet. As I look over the choices I have made in my life, I often wonder about Mom's, who as a group continue to give so much of who they are...not just their 'time'. Thanks for this piece. Nicely done!

one girl creative said...

Thank you. What a wonderful thing to say. My mom means the world to me so this is my way of showing my appreciation with this personal tribute.