“If you can find a song, it’ll help you make it through the night…” That’s the first line of the first song on my new CD “Rivers of Living Waters.” I wrote this song over 5 years ago; it’s probably closer to 10 years ago. Sometimes, we all can go through our ups and downs. And then sometimes it can feel like the rough patches last a little too long. It can feel like you’re having what they call “the dark night of the soul.”
My mom passed away in 1999, and as many of you know she inspired me to sing at an early age. As a matter of fact, I grew up in a Christian household in which there was a LOT of music. We sang as a family group. My mother was a choir director and a lead singer. Oftentimes, we (my siblings and I) would have to sift through her gospel album collection and find a song to sing for Saturday night programs and musicals. And usually her expectation was that we’d rehearse and learn the song before the week ended and before she got off work. This was the drill, as I recall it.
So when my mother passed away in 1999, my siblings and I decided to sing at her home going service, of course, as a special tribute to pay homage to “Mama,” as we called her. There we stood in front of a packed church in Alton, IL, all ready to sing….something. We really weren’t sure what to sing….because we hadn’t even rehearsed. My sister Bernice, who had flown into St. Louis that morning from Los Angeles (via Houston), begin to share a few words with the audience about the legacy our mother had left us, the legacy of music. She shared that many times we did not always have the best of circumstances, but somehow…if we could find a song, it would lift us, encourage us, strengthen our faith. After her intro, we began to sing our way back down memory lane, singing two of the earliest songs I remember learning as a child, “It’s in My Heart” by the late James Cleveland and “I Thank the Lord” by the late Mattie Moss Clark. And we brought the house down! I think Mama was proud.
I flew back home (to Maryland where I was living at the time) and soon went back to work. And this is when the grieving started. For some strange reason, I could not sing. For the first time, I felt there no singing in me. I could not sing a note without crying. Every time I opened my mouth to sing, I would cry. I sounded TOO MUCH like my mom. This went on for about 7 or 8 months, until finally I got a breakthrough. My niece got married the following summer and it felt only right that “Mama” be represented by me singing at the wedding. Thankfully, I was able to sing a song I wrote called “Dreams Come True” without crying!
Through this experience, I learned that if you can find a song to sing, it can lift you, transport you, and inspire you like nothing else can. An old hymn says it best, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free.” I invite you to be free and happy as you find that favorite song or tune to hum as you go along your life’s journey. It’ll bring you joy and you will sense a deep inner-abiding presence within you turning everything into sunshine inside your soul. I know it will. So find yourself a song!
Infinite blessing of love, peace, and joy,