“Almost no goal is impossible of attainment if you can accept it as being within the realms of possibility” –Jack Addington
I always loved to sing, act and dance, as far back as I can remember. Coming from a financially limited family of nine, including seven children and my parents, we did not have the luxury of pursuing any dreams. We did not have toys to amuse ourselves either, so we all had to resort to being creative.
Whenever I had the opportunity during my school years, I would always involve myself in student participation programs, where I was able to semi-fulfill my fantasies of singing, acting and dancing.
My career as Songwriter/Performer was launched with my one woman show Love and Things, which was both a vaudeville revue and supper-club entertainment rolled into one. As I now reflect on my artistic past, I ask myself, “How Did I ever get to accomplish such lofty goals?” All I know is that my desire to sing, dance and act was so strong throughout most of my childhood and young adult life, that I never stopped believing in my heart that it would become a reality.
Every sub-conscious step that I had taken in the field of music became a conscious step toward reaching that goal.
When I graduated from college and came back to my home in East Harlem, New York, I was able to gain wide stylistic range in my singing and delivery by joining vocal groups in New York City.
Whenever there were free concerts or vocal and theatrical performances offered throughout Manhattan I would make an effort to attend. I wanted to learn as much as I could and absorb the elements of music, drama, and dance working together as a whole entity of artistic creativity. As the singers and dancers entered and took their places on stage, I would pay close attention to their gestures, mannerisms, poise, and facial expressions. My attention would be riveted to the stage throughout the entire performance, taking mental notes while training my ears to the variance in piano and vocal sounds. The dancers were skillfully choreographed in their movements as they interacted with each other whirling around the stage. “Someday,” I would say, “Someday… “
In order to understand the decision I was going to make about my musical aspirations, I needed to self-reflect, which was an important part of the process of not only self-analyzing but also understanding the choices and risks involved when making that decision.
To accomplish this necessary goal, the first thing I needed to do was to analyze myself in an honest way. I asked myself two questions: “What did I want?” and “Where was I going?” I felt the best way to begin was to create a new plan of self- direction, by studying critically all my negative thoughts, of which FEAR was the major contributor. Fear of failure, fear of being ridiculed by others, as well as fear of success.
Why Fear of success? Because I knew that success was going to demand a lot of hard work, dedication, self-sacrifice and responsibilities, and I was becoming scared in regards to whether or not I could meet those expectations. This fear factor was becoming nurtured and starting to push me in the wrong direction. The battle had already been lost before I even began. Wanting to fulfill this wish for so long and not taking action on it was self-defeating; it would have become mere daydreaming. I had to try and transform my fear into a positive approach to the achievement of this goal. I grabbed a pad and made two columns, in one column I listed the strengths of my personality and the things that I excelled at, and next to it I listed all my weaknesses, which would stand between me and my noteworthy achievement. After comparing both sides, I decided to take the plunge with an unshakeable conviction that I would eventually succeed, despite any setbacks or obstacles. This was what it was all about, setting goals and making effective choices to pursue them amidst easy or difficult circumstances.
“My will shall shape my future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.” –Elaine Maxwell
My emphasis in writing songs began while studying privately with Dr. Herbert H. Buchanan, a Ph.D. in musicology from Rutgers University who was instrumental in encouraging me to compose music and to pursue it energetically. He said that I should train my voice to sing the songs that I composed. I panicked because I never sang solo. I was always a back-up singer as an alto or tenor. “Now just wait a minute, you have to be kidding.” I recall saying. “I really don’t know if I could do that.”
Dr. Buchanan said that I had more of a chance of being successful in the entertainment field as a SongWriter/Performer rather than just being a songwriter. So it was either follow my dream or give it up. Nevertheless, when I resumed my lessons, it was as a soloist rather than a back-up singer. I studied voice training for two years at the Leneve School of Music and Art in Morganville, NJ while I continued private piano lessons with Dr. Buchanan and vocal technique with Josephine Nagle, a noted opera singer who had performed in New York, Philadelphia and throughout the state of New Jersey. Thanks to her unique instructional methods, I was able to develop my vocal skills, emphasizing on breath support, posture, vocal placement, range and communication with the audience, all while learning how to act through singing.
I began performing whenever and wherever I could, trying my music on as many people as possible. I almost never turned down a call to volunteer my musical talents to charitable organizations, disabled veterans, senior groups and nursing homes while I performed professionally. It was a wonderful experience and very gratifying. This composing-performing experience proved so heady that I decided to go solo and embark on a new career with Let Me Entertain You! Featuring Mimi!
I was invited by two talk shows on cable TV, where I was interviewed and was asked to sing live. I sang one of my original songs, “Love Makes Me High”, on WCTC-AM Community Needs, hosted by Blanca Restrepo, and on TKR Cable TV Take Six Magazine, hosted by Wendy Grubow. This experience qualified me to become a full member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
I am pleased to say that despite the obstacles, setbacks and failures which I encountered during my earlier Songwriting/Performing experiences, I was still able to write, over a period of several years, more than 40 original songs, ranging from love themes and jazz to pop rock and Latin music. Dr. Buchanan believed in my music, and, as a result, got me to believe in it too. I will always remember my first bad experience at the Rye Country Club. I was performing and I was ready to call it quits. I will always remember the words of my sister, who said to me, “That’s the way it goes! Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. You have to learn how to go with the flow. You need to crawl first before you can walk, and walk before you can run.” Although there were some years that were more successful than others, I was beginning to feel a lot more confident about my progress and my future in the entertainment field, until regretfully, an accident brought closure to this chapter of my life.
Though it didn’t seem serious at first, it did have a definite impact on putting an end to my career as a performer, which was a very difficult decision to make. I know that everything has a reason, including the trials in my life, nonetheless, despite the circumstances that brought me to that point, I couldn’t have asked for a better apprenticeship.
The Doctor convinced me that it would take a long period of time invested in physical therapy and in hospital treatments before I would be able to function normally. I had come to terms that this recovery time frame could stretch into years. It was a very stressful and painful experience for me, going through my long medical ordeal.
My piano sat idle in the living room. It was too emotionally painful to get back into playing my music or trying to be creative once again with song writing. I had to find something else to do with my time and pursue an interest that I would enjoy, which was writing, the real passion of my life.
Little did I know at the time that whatever skills I had developed during my Songwriter/Performing career would eventually serve me well as a website administrator, blogger and now as a writer.
So my dear reader, the bottom line to all of this is that you MUST have an unwavering faith. Never lose sight of your goal or cease to be persistent, no matter what happens. Continue to have an unshakeable conviction that you will eventually succeed, despite all seeming setbacks and obstacles. Be a person who has definiteness of purpose and direction. In order for you to achieve whatever you set out to do, you must believe in whatever you wish to achieve, accept its possibility and confidently expect it to be realized.