A Random Middle School Memory

(This post is dedicated to my sister, who will laugh so loud at it that they will probably be able to hear her in the Space Station.)

Tonight I was scrub-a-dubbing in the shower and, as usual, I was singing Christmas carols.  Without realizing it, I started singing one of my favorite songs of all time, Lead Me Lord.  This brought back a flood of memories of where that song came from and before I knew it, my sick ass was laughing hysterically in the shower all by myself.  Cold pills are glorious things.

The memory of my favorite song was too good not to share, so here you go.  A story from my youth.  Merry Christmas.

When I was in middle school, I was in our church choir.  (Interesting fact:  Chris, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my friend Sarah were also all in this choir)  It was not a show choir.  Anyone could join, which is the only way I would ever be permitted to join a choir.  Or a softball team, incidentally.

Anyway, every year we met every Wednesday for choir practice after school, performed several times during church services throughout the year, performed an end-of-the-year concert, and then went on choir tour, where we basically went on a trip and stopped to sing in random churches along the way.  The point of choir was not the singing (thank goodness), it wasn’t even God (sorry, Jesus, I’m just keeping it real).  The point of choir were the cute boys and best girlfriends and the trip at the end of the year.

One year, our choir sang such a beautiful song that even today – almost 15 years later – I still sing it in my shower.  “Lead Me Lord” sounded like it needed to be sung in a Southern Baptist church with a gospel choir singing back up.  Instead, we sang it on the beach in flip flops.  The thing about “Lead Me Lord” was the solo.  The soloist got to sing over and above the choir as we sang the chorus in the background.  It was beautiful.  When our choir director announced there would be a soloist for this song and we had to audition for the part, I immediately thought, “I’ve got this in the bag.”  Which is actually incredibly funny if you know what I sound like when I sing.

Turns out, my choir director had Q-tipped his ears that morning and heard all the glory of my voice and he gave the part to someone else.  And not just anyone else.  He gave the part to Ashley Brown. (Interesting fact:  Ashley Brown went on to star in Beauty and the Beast and was the original Mary Poppins on Broadway, so I guess technically she had a good voice…)  Though I would never admit it at the time, Ashley sang the crap out of that song.  I mean, seriously.  No thirteen year old girl should be able to sing like that.  It was incredible.  (Interesting fact:  Every year, Ashley comes back from her fabulous Broadway life to sing “O Holy Night” at our hometown church and it is very seriously the highlight of my Christmas when I get to hear her.)


The choir performed that song at our spring concert just before choir tour and as Ashley crooned the gospel song like a pro, I stood behind her in the choir stands, silently mouthing her solo along with her.  No, really.  I’ve got a video somewhere.  You can see me singing with her.

The plan was that our choir would sing this song on choir tour.  It was our big finale number (well, as big as middle school church choirs that are open to the general public can be), but in a startling turn of events, Ashley wasn’t able to go on tour with us.  Apparently, she had better places to sing.  Like, on Broadway or whatever.

I remember the exact moment that I found out Ashley wasn’t going on choir tour.  I was standing in line to get on the tour bus and I overheard some people talking about it.  As I stood there in line, I started yelling out to our choir director across the parking lot, “I’LL SING IT!  LET ME SING IT!  I WANT TO SING IT!”  But, apparently, our choir director HAD forgotten to Q-tip his ears that morning because, apparently, he didn’t hear me.  Or see me waving my arms.  Or feel me clinging to his shirttail, begging.

All during the first day of travel on choir tour, I begged our poor choir director to let me sing.  He’d walk down the aisle of the bus to go to the bathroom and I’d just start singing out random lines, “Oh, Lead me, Lord!  I WILL GOOOOOOOO!”  Eventually, I started singing both the choir back up and the solo part, just to show him how dedicated I was.  “Lead me, Lord, (OH, LEAD ME!) I will follow, (OH, I’LL FOLLOW!), Lead me I will go (OH, I’LL GOOOOO)…”  After hours of singing in the back of the bus to no avail, I made my way to the front of the bus, walking straight past our choir director and up to the bus driver, where I took the bus microphone out of the little stand and clicked it on.

“Warren,” I said over the intercom, “Warren, if you’ll just give me a chance, I think you’ll see I really can sing this song just as good as Ashley Brown. (Interesting fact:  That was a lie.)  What has been missing from all my auditioning, though, has been a microphone.  I sound way better when I’m singing in a microphone.  (Interesting fact:  That was a lie, too)  And, oh!  Look!  I found a microphone!  Right here in my hand!”

And before Warren or the bus driver could wrestle the microphone away from me, I started belting out Ashley’s solo over the tour bus.  By the time I was done, the whole choir was singing back up for me and I was ON FIRE!  Let me tell you…

When I was finished, Warren and the choir politely applauded and he mumbled something along the lines of, “We’ll see…”  But when we got to the church where we were performing, there was no “Lead Me Lord” on the program.  Oddly enough though, I didn’t even care.  For three shining moments on that tour bus, I sounded like Ashley Brown.  (Interesting fact:  That’s another lie)

I have a notoriously bad memory.  I can’t remember anything from high school, barely anything from college, hardly anything from last week.  But that memory is too good to forget.

(Interesting fact:  Ginny and I both married boys that were on that choir tour, Sarah and I now live down the street from each other and work together, and Ashley Brown is a Broadway star.  Who knew?!?!)


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26 Thoughts to “A Random Middle School Memory”

  1. LOL, that is too funny! I actually saw Ashley Brown in Mary Poppins on Broadway a couple of years ago…she is truly fantastic. But I am sure you did indeed sing the crap out of “Lead Me Lord”! And just remember, regardless of how we sing, God always hears a beautiful melody!

  2. Beth

    Now, Ashley can say she knew YOU when… because you are a world famous blogger

  3. Too funny! Isn’t it hilarious how certain songs can just bring you back?

  4. That is a very funny story.

    And I have SEEN Ashley Brown as Mary Poppins on Broadway. Amazing, and I’m super jealous that you know her.

  5. Can we make a list of your most hilarious posts and put this at the top? You just made my night.

  6. rachaelhardin

    Just remember hon God said to make a JOYFUL noise not a good one 😛

  7. Brina

    I know that I hardly ever comment, but this had me literally LOLing for three reasons. First off, I was always mesmerized by Ashley, both in church and in every GBHS drama production. Second, my “Ashley Brown” in choir was Blair Taylor, who went on to sing for the Metropolitan Opera House. Third, this post also reminded me of the year that Ginny and I were in choir together and put on the worst Christmas show ever, where both of us (and several others) forgot their lines and improvised throughout the show (I think Ginny was the angel?). Warren still told us what a great job we did after the show. Wonder if Ginny even remembers that year… 😀

  8. OMG! I literally have tears running down my cheek from laughing so hard! I’m just picturing you singing at the top of your lungs from the back of the bus, and I can’t stop laughing! What a GREAT memory!

  9. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha oh my gosh. I’m dying. Oh goodness. Dying!!! I still love singing that song (both backup and soloist parts!). Oh gosh. What a memory.

    And yes, Brina, I totally remember that choir performance, too! I just told that story the other night! John Michael was out in the audience and was laughing so hard at me when I forgot my lines that I just started laughing right back and I don’t think any of us sang a note that entire performance from all the laughing we did.

    Oh choir, such good memories.

  10. Well, at least you had the guts to go up there and try it. And now you have a funny memory instead of just that one time you wanted to sing a solo and did nothing about it.

  11. That is so funny. I really did laugh out loud.

  12. Casey

    Okay, you’ve got me dyin’ over here in South Carolina! That is hilarious and reminds me of my fabulous solo audition from middle school. Yep, I’m totally tone deaf but I thought I was a rock star back then 😉 good times! I love how something as simple as a song you love can take you back in time!!

  13. jenny-bird

    Very funny. High school electives always provide opportunities for hilarious adventures (and for meeting cute boys). I listened to some of Ashley’s performances. One word: amazing. Thanks for introducing us to her, Katie.

  14. Brina

    @ Ginny – Yes, we were all giggling our way through the entire thing. And during practice, Locke kept asking Warren if she could be the baby Jesus… LOL (Blair just reminded me of that tidbit). Oh, the Warren days. 😀

  15. Jessica

    You are so darn funny! Just made my morning!

  16. Lee Ann

    Katie, I know EXACTLY what you mean! I sound SO great singing in the car. And it’s much better with the music loud, and the windows down, and people stuck in traffic beside me. Must be something about having a captive audience that brings out the best in our voices . 🙂

  17. Oh I’m happy your taking cold pills right now because this is hysterical! I always thought I was a decent singer with the radio, on tune and everything. Until my “loving” husband turned the radio off halfway through a song. I know I’ll never be on broadway but hell, it makes me happy to belt out the songs so I just turn the volume up louder and sing away.

  18. What a fun memory to have. I just wish you had a video so we could see your awesome singing “skillz”!

  19. You must have been one of the more confident (if delusional) middle school girls on the planet. Good for you!

  20. Peggy

    OMG – too funny! Thanks for sharing and for bringing back memories of my church choir and the trips we took. So much fun!

  21. You were one sassy little kid, it sounds like! 🙂 My boyfriend told me recently that I sing like a cartoon character, so good for you!

  22. HILARIOUS!! thank you for sharing!!! Brilliant re-telling!!!

  23. Ahhh I also remember this song above all others we sang!! And the rediculiously bad performance we did at Christmas that year…. Haha. I am pretty sure “Lead Me Lord” made it to the GBUMC Christmas CD that year…. The Ashley version 🙂 She is seriously amazing!!! I always looked forward tO the Christmas Eve service for that one reason, Oh Holy Night!!!

  24. Jess

    Thats so funny! I just saw Ashley Brown in Mary Poppins! So funny! She did great by the way. And like you, I kept saying to myself ‘I could totally do that’ (but I cant) 😉

  25. Ryze

    I came across your blog and just wanna say Hi. Some stuff resonates with me like right now I wanna move back to be with my family but my husband hasn’t found a job there yet. Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your blog 🙂

  26. Lindsay

    OK, I must have been on this bus, but I really don’t remember this happening, how can that be? Which tour was it? Where were we going? Loved the story! Too funny! 🙂

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