The Little Contralto

I constantly remember random activities I took part in as a child, such as acting classes at the JCC (Jewish Community Center. I know. We’ll talk about it later.) and swimming and gymnastics at the Y. Until recently, though, I had completely forgotten about my stint as a singer for the Spring Chorus Concert at Garrett Elementary. I think I was in second grade.

The chorus sang various memorable songs to which I remember all the words (if you ask me what happened in a movie I saw last week, I won’t be able to tell you, but these second grade song lyrics are crystal clear in my mind), but my shining moment came in a little tune called “Down to the Bone.” This is the first verse:

“When I was a baby/a little bitty baby/I learned my ABC’s./I learned about my numbers, and my colors and my letters/it came so easy to me./All I had to do was hear it in the music/all I had to do was sing it in a song/all I had to do was hear it in my mind/and then my heart beat (pause pause) followed along in my bones.”

That is what the other children sang. But I, no, I was special. I had the honor to sing the low point in the song, as at 7 years old, my voice was indistinguishable from that of James Earl Jones. So, while the other children sang their adorable song, I stood on the side, likely with the male gym teacher or something, singing at my lowest tone:

“Down, down, down, down, down, down to the bone,” over and over again. This, until the chorus.  The part in parenthesis is what I sang, along with the other man, while the normal children sang their part:

“(Down to the bone) My music makes me feel whole (it makes me whole), it really touches my soul (touches my soul), it getBarry_Whites me down to the bone (down to the bone).”

It was a mannish foray into the world of music, which could be why I didn’t last very long. Was I good? No. I was great. Josh Groban had nothing on me. But I knew that my butch pipes would only lead to a very sad and confusing VH1 Behing the Music, so I gracefully turned down the open invitation to sing in the chorus concert that following fall. Now I only sing in the shower, and I most often chose Barry White.


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