The holidays are always a nostalgic time for me, and since I’ve finished with my morning work site for the semester, this week has been a time of cleaning my apartment. Put the two together and you’ve got the scene from my living room this morning. I was putting away all the junk that had accumulated on my bedroom floor when I found the clock I’d purchased from Wal-Mart to go in my bathroom. Deciding to put it up (I figured it was a good idea since it had been on the floor for over a week), I went to the closet to get a thumb tack out of the box where I keep various desk items since I don’t have a desk any more. Also contained in the box is all of my CDs that aren’t in my car, home movies (classics, I must say) and tapes. Audio ones. Some professional, some home-made. Among them was a mid-late 90’s recording of the Wilkes Central Madrigal Singers. The Greatest Hits, if you will.
I have just one thing to say: We. Were. Phenomenal.
I spent the next hour and a half singing along with all my old second soprano parts, amazed at how well I remembered them and shocked at how high some of them were. Granted, I wasn’t properly warmed up. But anywho. It’s incredible how music brings back so many memories for me. I remembered vividly standing all around the sanctuary at the First Baptist Church of North Wilkesboro singing “MLK.” I remembered Mrs. Watts having to tell me pretty much every day to stop talking (What can I say? I have a lot of words.) and how she could recognize all of our singing voices without even looking at us. I remembered changing in and out of my trash bag chorus dress in all kinds of strange places: bathrooms, buses, the school gym, etc. I remembered Alyson Eastep and I getting carried away making up higher and higher harmonies for the part in “Ride on King Jesus” that said, “In that great gettin’ up morning, fare thee well, fare thee well.” I remembered Dan Mastin forgetting the words to his solo in “Riu Riu Chiu.”
The free days around this time of year when we got out of school almost every day to go sing Christmas songs in one place or another. “Deck the Halls” in 7/8 time. Rockin’. We lost it completely during one concert. It was like a derailed train. When we were finished torturing the audience with it, Mrs. Watts announced that we were going to try that again, which we did. It was much better. We used to sing “Mary Did You Know” (way before Clay Aiken took it up), and we would crack up because we could never keep straight the part that says, “The lame will leap, the deaf will speak, the dead will live again” (I’m still not even sure that’s right). We had to have cue cards so that we wouldn’t end up singing, “The dead will speak, the deaf will leap, the lame will live again.” We memorized everything we sang no matter whether it was in English, Latin, old Spanish or Swahili, but for some reason, we just couldn’t get that one down.
For me, high school was chorus. I played sports, I made good grades, I was in clubs (heck, I was the president of the Japanese club one year), I participated in church activities, but if I had to pick one thing that I loved above all else during those four years, it was chorus class. The summers were all about church youth group, but during the school year, Madrigal Singers all the way. I think that’s one reason I loved high school so much while other people hated it. I’m always shocked to hear that people could have possibly been miserable for all those years while I was having such a ball. But I suppose that’s what community and a passion for something will do for you.
So to all the Madrigal Singers out there, I can’t wait for the reunion. I say we do “Jambo” once for old-time’s sake. I’ll play the trash can.