Jonathan Reid Gealt
I found myself feeling nervous and excited and inspired in every single class, but in some ways I was most nervous about our last class: pop with Tituss Burgess. There were a few reasons for this:
1. Tituss is a friggin' superstar. He's graced the stages of Broadway in shows like The Little Mermaid and Guys and Dolls as well as appearing on seasons 5 and 6 of 30 Rock.
2. His voice is UNBELIEVABLE. I think this was one of the first videos I ever saw of Tituss and every time I watch it I am just in awe. Or this. Or this. This too (mic and all)
3. Singing pop kinda makes me wanna vomit.
I mean, I can sing pop, but I don't really consider it a strength. There's been an increase in audition requirements of late consisting of a "pop/rock" song thanks to musicals like We Will Rock You, Rock of Ages, Spring Awakening etc that don't really fall into the traditional musical theatre sound. I'll sing pop when Ash and I have cabarets or when I'm at karaoke or home by myself, but I often feel like I sound like a dolt when I sing it otherwise.
So here I am, on my final night in New York City, about to sing a genre that makes me want to throw up for one of my BIGGEST musical inspirations. "Screw it, I'm just going to go up there and do my thing" I remember myself thinking. I nearly changed my song to something more "rock" about halfway through the class, but stuck to my guns to sing Kelly Clarkson's Beautiful Disaster. I sat through about 2/3 of my super talented class and decided that I was just going to get it done.
I dropped my music off with the accompanist and walked to the centre. Tituss was talking to someone else or looking through what he had written down and was halfway through saying "whenever you're ready" to me when he stopped himself and said "oh no, you are ready.You just do your thing"
So I haven't even opened my mouth yet and Tituss is excited to hear me sing. Super.
I sang the first line of the song and Tituss stopped me and said that he loved me. It was unbelievable. We worked on the first line of the song (he drowns in his dreams) and just "being" a few times and then he decided that I was going to sing the song to him. So he pulled up two chairs and I sang and he listened and held my hand and it was one of the most amazing moments of my life. (I'm bawling as I write this and reflecting on just how wonderful it was) We talked about what I was singing about and to whom and how to convey that story simply and honestly.
Everything came really naturally and my classmates said it was a really special moment to watch - apparently even some of them had tears as well! Singing to him was such a gift and the feedback that he gave me really helped me squash all the negative self talk I had been experiencing and all the doubts I had had about making the right decision to come to New York and take this workshop. Seriously, just say yes and wonderful things will follow.
We chatted and hugged after class and he was so kind and lovely and told me that I "didn't need to do anything - that I was enough bringing the special quality that I bring". I don't think my feet touched the ground all the way home and the memories of that extra special Sunday evening helped me get through the bus ride back to Toronto.
I didn't throw up.
And I got to sing for someone I adore.
And he loved it.
We'll just cross that one off the bucket list and hold that gift extra close to my heart. Just incredible.
Tituss just had a show at 54 Below, but I'm sure there will be much more to come.
He's a pretty unbelievable talent. And I feel so lucky to have had the chance to sing to him.