We had no idea what to expect. NO idea. Our friend, Dr. Claudia Kittock, invited my husband and me to not only attend a Mill City Community Choir rehearsal, but to participate. â€œEverybody is welcome to join in and sing,â€ she said. â€œCome on down. Youâ€™ll love it! J.D. Steele does a fantastic job of leading us.â€
Before I Continue With The Story, You Need To Know A Few Things
- J.D. Steele is the real thing. He is the eldest of the siblings comprising the ginormously successful musical group The Steeles. His charm is infectious, and his talent is off the charts. Brother Fred Steele–another abundantly talented soul– is the piano accompanist for the choir but absent on this day.
- Claudia is one of the worldâ€™s most exuberant and big-hearted people. She was part of the effort to get this choir up and running, with running being a crucial word. Claudia, an active volunteer in a downtown Minneapolis program called â€œMile In My Shoes,â€ seeks to further understanding among the people living in her neighborhood. According to their mission statement, Mile in My Shoes is a â€œVolunteer-led team sharing the power of running with a local homeless shelter. We run to transform each other â€“ and ourselves.â€ Creating a choir that welcomed Emanuel Housing residents, along with other diverse community members, felt right, and Claudia did her part to make it happen.
- I donâ€™t sing in public. On occasion I torture our pets with a song, but if they want the treats in my hand they better act interestedâ€”or at least tolerant.
- And this is a big oneâ€¦Claudiaâ€™s invitation left out an important bit of information. Choir participants would be called onâ€”one by oneâ€”to come forward to perform solo in some way. J.D. feels it is a powerful way to get used to being in front of others.
My husband sings in our church choir, so he had no issue joining in with this group of music lovers. I, however, told Claudia that I would NOT be singing. Could I hang around and take a few photographs instead?
As the choir started warming up, I tried my darndest to be invisible. With ninja-like stealth, I crept over to a wall and plunked down on the floor with my camera in hand. Blend, Gail, blend! Be the carpet! Be the carpet.
Almost immediately J.D. tilted his head and looked at me. â€œWho are you, smiley?â€
At a loss for words, I started hemming and hawing and clutching my camera as if it could somehow save me.
â€œSheâ€™s a friend of mine,â€ said Claudia.
â€œDoes she sing?
Before Claudia could respond, I squeaked out, â€œNO!â€
J.D. gave me a sly smile. â€œItâ€™s dangerous being in this room. You never know what can happenâ€¦â€ Then he got back to the business of making beautiful music with the choir members. After a short while, he said it was time for the â€œshow and tellâ€ portion of the day. Oh oh. What show and tell portion? I looked over at Claudia, but she had left the room. Did I mention she is also smart?
J.D. pointed at a gentleman in the front row. â€œRemind me of your name?â€
â€œLadies and gentlemen, welcome Steve to the stage!â€
All applauded as Steve came to the front of the room, pulled out a sheet of paper, and proceeded to sing an a cappella song. When Steve finished, J.D. pointed at another person. I started to wonder if my husband, tucked back in the bass section, would come up if invited. He was, in fact, only a visitor. Lost in thought, I didnâ€™t see J.D. coming towards me.
â€œLadies and gentleman, welcome the photographer to the stage!â€
Big eyed and horrified, I shook my head with gusto. â€œNot happening!â€ J.D. laughed a â€œjust messing with youâ€ laugh, and selected another to come to the front.
Eventually, he did point at my husband.
To my astonishment, my husband walked to the front like he owned the place. (Itâ€™s rather cute that my spouse can still shock me after all these years.) I wondered if he would rip into the porcupine song he loves to sing to his grandkids, but noooooooo, that wasnâ€™t his plan.
â€œI want to thank Rick and Claudia Kittock for inviting us to be a part of this choir rehearsal,â€ he said. â€œWhat a great group! I may need one of you to drive me home after this, howeverâ€¦â€
My heart started racing. He wouldnâ€™t say that if he werenâ€™t about to throw me under the bus in some way.
â€œYou see, my wifeâ€”the photographer over thereâ€”celebrated her birthday yesterday. Would you join me in singing happy birthday to her?â€
I blushed about six shades of red. As you may recall invisibility was my goal. Ug.
When I got my husband alone, I said, â€œWHYYYYYYYYYY?â€
â€œWell it was either that or the porcupine song, and I knew they would join in with me by singing happy birthday to you. Win-win!â€
Okay, it was a sweet gesture on my husbandâ€™s part and very kind of the choir and J.D. to respond to the request. Music is an incredible tool to bring people together. In this instance, it once again worked its magic. I did drive my husband home.
P.S. If you have anyone in your life dealing with cancer, you should read Claudia’s book, Health Thru Chaos, available on Amazon Kindle.