As a long time choral singer in some fabulous choirs, I have been rather fortunate to sing in some special concerts. In both high school and college I was able to sing beautiful music in wonderful international venues around the world. Of my special choir memories, I remember singing the reverential “Beautiful Savior” in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, and the Duruflé Requiem in Carnegie Hall, and the Mozart Requiem in the Sydney Opera House; I also remember with tears singing “Deep River” in my college choir room the evening after my friend and fellow choir member passed away suddenly. Our grief as a collective could only be brought forth in song, and our very souls were in the notes that poured forth that night, music crying more passionately than tears ever could, sending our sorrow and our anger and our hope from our spirits to the beautiful soul who left the world, going into the ether that only music can reach.
Last night I was privileged to be singing in the Kennedy Center as a part of a multi-choral, multi-generational, multi-racial tribute concert to honor the spirit and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is an annual concert that started the year after Dr. King’s passing, and last night’s performance was one that will be filed in my memory of truly special performances. There were several times when the music was so potent that I was in tears, feeling the same sorrow and anger and hope of a people whose culture is rife with burdening the injustices and hurts this country has put upon them. Since I’m white in appearance (yet half Hispanic), come from a middle class family and have lived a relatively comfortable life, I cannot fully relate to the struggles and culture of my American friends of African descent. But I recognize the music. I recognize the chords of pain, of grief, of loss, of anger, of compassion and of hope.
The 2016 Humanitarian Award winner Bryan Stevenson who was honored last night made a passionate appeal that deeply resonated with me. He reminded us that we need to talk about and be involved in those issues that make us uncomfortable, because nobody changed the world by doing what was comfortable. The injustices of the world won’t go away if we close our eyes to them, instead our vision becomes feeble and when we are finally forced to open our eyes again the world will look wholly unfamiliar. We need to be out there doing, saying, recognizing and educating everyone, reminding them that things can be fixed if we as a people can some together to say, “Things are broken. People are hurting. We need to put first our humanity and then our pride to fix the system that keeps disenfranchising the minority, the impoverished and the weakest in our society.” Our country is chronically ill and we need to get healthy again.
Last night reminded me of why I love the things I do. I love singing because I love that music transcends all boundaries to touch the hearts of the people listening. I love being a mother because I love sharing my heart and life with those unblemished souls who can learn how to become better people that I ever hope to be. My dream is to one day open a health and wellness center so that people can feel their best, body mind and soul. That lead me to becoming a Beachbody coach, motivating and inspiring others who struggle with getting healthy the way I did. But more importantly, I am reminded that healthy individuals make healthy decisions, and healthy people can breathe life into a dying society. I want to become more of an activist facing the injustices I see around me. I really do. But, while I figure out how best to do that, I’ll devote my time to inspiring people into health. Not just weight loss, but real, life-changing health. That is my passion. The song in which we ended the concert summed up my revelation nicely: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he is trav’ling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain.”