“Her voice was broken, so I sing aloud”

I work every day to make her proud
Her voice was broken
So I sing aloud.
—Emma Langford

I went to Milwaukee Irish Fest this year and heard some really top-notch Irish music by a lot of young artists who may be using traditional Irish instruments, but are singing about contemporary and deeply personal themes. The one that impressed me the most was the first person I heard on Friday, singer-songwriter Emma Langford.

Her range and vocal colors reminded me of a young non-smoking Joni Mitchell. Her stage presence is engaging and entertaining. And then she sang a song addressed to her 13 year old self, who had been diagnosed with vocal nodules and was told by her doctor that she had three options:

  1. She could have surgery
  2. She could go on vocal rest for 2 years (accompanied by voice therapy)
  3. She could keep singing and have a career as a Rod Stewart tribute artist (her words, not mine – but don’t they sound like something I’d say? maybe that’s why I like her so much)

She chose option 2. And for two years, she couldn’t do what she loved to do most.

I’ve had bad bouts of bronchitis that affected my voice (and my pocketbook), and the feeling of not wanting to do what I feel I was born to do left me feeling – broken. Not just my voice, but my spirit, my heart.

Emma sang, simply and without accompaniment, to tell that 13 year old girl that everything was going to be all right:

I work every day to make her proud
Her voice was broken
So I sing aloud

I think that 13 year old girl that still lives within her – and in all of us, whether we’ve suffered a vocal injury or some other physical or psychic injury – would be proud of her continuing to sing aloud and beautifully, with no sign of ever having had any damage.

She sings about everything from her own personal struggles with anxiety, to songs about getting her boyfriend back after stupidly breaking up with him (and any songwriter who writes the lyric, “Yeah, dick move on my part,” is golden), to songs about the love between a broken church bell and the ruins of a church (probably the most “Irish” sounding of all the songs).

There are so many songs I could share, but this one is her new single. It’s completely different and comes from her upcoming CD. Enjoy this video and check out her YouTube channel. I think you’ll enjoy it. Wait for her “trumpet” solos. 

So sing aloud and be proud. It’ll be all right.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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