There is a lyric in ABBA’s famous song ‘Thank you for the music’:
Mother said I was a dancer before I could walk,
mhmm she says I began to sing long before I could talk
I would love to say that this lyric applies to me, but in reality I didn’t start singing until I was 14.
Singing was something I did quietly or sarcastically, depending on the company, because my older siblings would mock me royally if I sang ‘properly’. I always knew I enjoyed singing and could sing relatively tunefully but I never really gave my lungs enough leave to achieve their full expansion.
When I turned 14, I was signed up for the Bronze ‘Duke of Edinburgh Award’. This involved a series of challenges showing that you are able to orient yourself and camp overnight as well as offer several weeks of volunteering, playing a sport and learning a skill.
For my skill, I decided to choose the cheapest musical instrument so as not to cause my parents extra financial grief: my voice. My singing teacher immediately recognised my range as that of a soprano and I persuaded her to put away the pop songs book and fish out her book on classical arias.
I continued to sing for my own enjoyment, with one or two public classical performances for the Lords Taverner’s charity, until 2014 when I joined the function band Exit Strategy and formed an acoustic duo called BJ & Gasson.