Last night I gave a couple of my albums to a friend of mine and while doing that I looked at the back of my first CD, Images, and saw the year stamped at 2008. I realized, it’s been 4 years since I’ve been doing this “music thing” seriously. I don’t even know quite what to call it anymore, a pursuit of… my dreams? …my passion? … my gifting? It’s provided just the right amount of ups and downs for me to be thoroughly discombobulated and disillusioned and disoriented and a lot of other words starting in “dis-“. Basically, nothing that your typical artist has not experienced before.
Last year when I started to take a step back and reassess my direction, I contemplated the possibility that perhaps, this road wasn’t meant for me. That maybe I was better off keeping music around as a hobby and that doing something more worthwhile or productive might be more beneficial to my self and to society. Growth as a singer/songwriter has been slow and painful. And let’s face it. I suck at networking, hate promoting myself and I just can’t stand the general business aspect of music.
I especially detest telling people to vote for me. And yet, I’ve been doing it for the past 2 weeks.
A few months ago, I submitted a video of mine to be considered for WNYC’s annual “Battle of the Boroughs” competition, where musicians battle it out in each borough, then the finalists go on to represent their respective boroughs in the final show. I was happy to find out I was accepted as one of 11 acts for Queens and the showcase happened a couple of weeks ago. If you’re Facebook friends with me or on my music page, you probably heard me shouting it from the rooftops that night, to vote for me, once, twice or as many times as your heart desires. I am absolutely grateful to have so much support and had many people vote for me — I ended up in the Top Five group in Queens! Unexpectedly, I found out there is a second round of voting and this round will determine who will represent Queens in the final competition.
Let me backtrack just a little bit. When I found out I was accepted to this event, not one single thought of possibility entered my mind that I would actually have a chance at winning. I’ve been in enough competitions to know what people are looking for and how performances are judged. For me, it was an act of courage to submit and a pleasant surprise to be included at all. When I arrived that evening of the actual Battle for Queens, it dawned on me the amount of talent and variety we were about to experience. I was gonna play my little song and get on with it. I was one of 11 performers that night and I was the only solo act. Every other act was a band and they each played fantastic, high-energy and interesting songs. When it was my turn, I took the stage, marched to the grand piano and sang my “painfully vulnerable” song. As I finished the last few notes of the song, there was a silence that came over the room, in which one could hear a pin drop. I knew at that moment in my heart, without a shadow of a doubt, that no matter what the result would be that evening, I had done my job.
I know I can let that moment stand on its own and I don’t have to keep trying to win. Because winning isn’t the point. It never was. Gaining popularity, selling millions of albums, becoming famous, making a fortune… none of that was ever the point. But so much of that bombards an artist’s space, many of us succumb to those pressures. Others of us just lose it altogether and give up. Add to that the much more insidious lurkers, namely my own ego and pride and selfishness… this is a battle, indeed. And for me, I feel like this battle is just beginning. I’m just starting to realize that I have to fight for the good and beautiful and true – music – in my life and I cannot give up. Not yet.
So I’m asking you to vote. Not so that I can win but so that I can fight for the good that I am able to muster up through my music. That maybe a piano-playing-Jesus-loving-Korean-American-singing-accountant girl living in Rego Park can represent the borough of Queens. I’ve posted my performance from the evening below. It doesn’t quite capture the magic of the moment but you can at least get a glimpse. Voting ends this Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 11:59pm.
Thanks for reading, and keep on fighting the good fight.