Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
I am exceedingly lucky that my voice, along with
perfect pitch and perfect rhythm, was given me at birth.
Kate Smith, singer; she was born
on this day, 1907.
Ed Sullivan’s show was broadcast in Canada when I was a child …and we watched it every week … despite the fact that Canada had a slight anti-American bent at the time. Ed had Kate Smith on a lot. Kate was portly .. she reminded me of the ladies who were members of the United Empire Loyalists who used to parade each year in a service at St Paul’s, Bloor Street, Toronto. She, like them, wore floor-length white beaded gowns, … but the UEL ladies also wore big sashes … and they carried large Union Jacks and the provincial flag of Ontario down the aisle during the procession! (Inappropriately enough, rifles were also carried down the aisle by ancient British-background veterans … and placed on the altar for the remainder of the liturgy!!)
But boy could Kate sing!! And Ed would place her on a pedestal, from which she would sing “God Bless America”. I loved her!
I had the privilege of knowing the great (in my view the greatest soprano of the 20th C … ) Leontyne Price, through a mutual friend. I was once at a party after a Met performance at Madam Price’s house in the East Village. She told me a story that, one day, she was vocalizing in preparation for the night’s performance at the Met (Madam Price was from Laurel MS) ; her maid of many years, she said, shouted down the stairs at her, “Keep going Ms. Leontyne; you’ll get it right soon.”
Then Ms. Price said, “I’ve worked hard to sing. But I would never have been able to do it if God had not give me the lungs and rib cage and the breath to start with”.
Leontyne also had perfect pitch and perfect rhythm.
Every one of us has been given specific capacities, gifts, abilities to develop. All of which give us the start to become a beautiful human being, and then to contribute that person we are to the World and to the human community.
There is no doubt that so many things have conspired against our being free to do that.
The purpose of any good faith or religious path is to free us to make this contribution to the human community.
If you have been deprived of making that contribution …. and so many of us have … change course. It’s never too late. Each of us has a unique contribution to make to the design of the kind of Being that the God of Infinite Compassion desires.