On Friday, July 27th, I performed with Soul Asylum on their finale song, Stand Up & Be Strong, as part of Skyline Music Festival. Michael Bland and Dave Pirner asked that I bring other singers with me to join them, center stage, on the 3rd base line of Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins! The other singers included my son, Jake Long; Adara Thomas and Rachael Okerlund from remarkable faith based vocal group, Joyful Noize; and traditional Anishinaabe songwriter and vocalist, Dorene Waubanewquay Day.
I love Target Field. I love baseball and I love Soul Asylum. 10,000 people were on their feet in the bleachers singing “Stand up and be strong!” It was a power surge that hasn’t stopped.
Maybe it’s the endorphins kicking in. Maybe it’s just the pure joy that music brings – the bliss of happiness that promotes the healing.
In late June I had laser surgery to remove a polyp on my vocals cords. It’s been quite the healing process, both physically and emotionally. Long periods of silence, unable to answer the phone, minimizing laughter, and communicating one on one through writing on clipboards and computer screens. Fearful that the polyp might return, after momentary lapses of laughter, screams, and moans.
One thing I’ve found through this journey is the more I keep my mouth shut, the more my heart keeps singing. I’m still not supposed to talk on the phone, in a room with television on, or in the car. I’m still not supposed to force my voice beyond the breath, nor whisper, but allow it to glide out with ease. Talking is actually harder on the voice than singing.
My vocal coach has me doing vocal slides three times a day with ascending and descending scales. She has given me permission to sing publicly, but only with a microphone and no more than one or two songs.
Since this permission was granted, I’ve sung at a dear friends memorial service, Steve O’Neil, in Duluth, but had to flee as soon as it was over, so I wouldn’t be in a crowded situation talking.
Now three days after singing with Soul Asylum, I woke and sat in the sun with my guitar on the front steps of my home and worked on two new songs I’ve been writing. I discovered that my range has increased by at least one full octave since this operation on my vocal cords.
Last night I received a call about possibly singing a new song, Welcome Home, in honor of returning Veterans from overseas at We Fest in Detroit Lakes with a Color Guard before Carrie Underwood takes the stage.
I feel nothing but gratitude.