My daughter leaned over to whisper in my ear, “See that girl? Third from the right?” I nodded. “She’s awesome.”
We were watching a showcase of performing arts talent on my daughter’s college campus. Seated outside on a glorious fall day, we’d seen students doing modern dance and step. We’d heard a capella renditions of songs by Swift and Sinatra. And now we were getting ready to hear a gospel group sing.
The young woman my daughter pointed out was bespectacled with long, swaying braids. In the second song of the set, she took the microphone and moved one step in front of the group. The leader raised his hands and the keyboardist began to play.
I was ready for something astounding – hadn’t my daughter said this girl was awesome?
When the young woman opened her mouth to sing, I was a little mystified. You see, it was a traditional call-and-response piece and she was taking the lead.
But her vocal range was probably just about four notes, and two of those gave her some trouble.
She was not the most tonally gifted singer I’ve ever heard.
The audience began to fidget in their seats.
But she kept going. And her group kept following her, clapping and swaying in time with the beat.
She’d sing out her line, the rest of the singers harmonized along. She sang with passion, with attention, and with joy.
And she was totally in the moment.
Pretty soon a huge grin took up all the space on my face. Because I finally knew what I was seeing.
I was witnessing a raw display of powerful courage.
This young woman, pushing her glasses up on her nose, was singing her heart out in front of five hundred people.
In front of many of her classmates. Their parents. Their grandparents.
She was even being filmed.
Doing something many of us would shrink from doing if we couldn’t do it absolutely perfectly.
Yep, there she was, standing up in front of her entire community, doing something she loved.
Doing it as if no one was watching.
Doing it for the sheer joy of doing it.
I leaned over to my daughter and said, “She’s the bravest person I’ve seen in a long time.”
My daughter replied, “See? I told you she was awesome.”