As originally posted in 2009:
Amsterdam, NL 7 May, 2009 7.40pm
I started writing this on a BA Flight in the clouds somewhere between London and Amsterdam on Monday 4 May 7.30am BST/8.30am CET and never got round to finishing it. Why? I always get busy in RIPE meetings and catching up with friends and colleagues – and I absolutely love it!
Many of you will have heard me attempting to sing in the past. Apart from group Karaoke, I have always shied away from it as I have been unable to control my voice. Karaoke has allowed my voice to get drowned in the singing crowd.
So, it came as a surprise to everyone when I sang at my cousin’s wedding. Video clip of this is below.
How this came about: a year prior to my cousin’s wedding I was bestowed with the honour of being his Best Man. Ample time for me to prepare my speech and get into the swing of my duties and responsibilities.
I had been a Best Man only once before this – at my brother’s wedding. My speech was done with a PowerPoint presentation and people generally liked that. So I think it was expected that I would do something similar.
However I did not wish to do the same thing again… different wedding, different type of speech. So I put on my thinking cap and a few weeks later, in my wisdom, I decided that I would sing.
I knew that I did not wish to scare people away from the wedding so started searching for a singing teacher and finally found a vocal coach – someone who taught me how to control my breathing (extremely important in singing or projecting your voice) and how to breathe properly (most people do not), in addition to projecting my voice through song and music.
It was difficult at first. I was embarrassed singing (attempting to) in front of the teacher. I already knew my singing was not good at all. However with her encouragement and my perseverance, I got confident. I started practicing at home, in the car (although one should not sing whilst sitting in the car as one can not fill up their lungs with air to the full extent).
The first song I was taught to sing was ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. I was encouraged to bring in my own style into the song too. It was lots of fun. We tried lots of other different styles of song, just to give me a feel of what I felt comfortable with. It is only because of my attempting to sing the songs properly did I realise how talented some of the music artists are – I started listening to lots of songs, working out how they may be breathing at particular points to get certain sounds from their voice.
I had to decide what song to sing at the wedding and a few months before the wedding, I came up with three songs which I would choose from at a later date. So I started learning:
Love Is In the Air by John Paul Young
Everything by Michael Bublé
Amazing by George Michael
So yes, as you can see I made it harder for myself. I should have stuck to one song only, but I give myself three songs to learn and practice!
As the day approached I started getting nervous. I did not wish to ruin the wedding with a bad song or bad singing, I did not wish to embarrass my cousin and his bride, I did not want to be the laughing stock – there were going to be 500 people there.
So I started asking people to help me. I asked my significant other if she would consider dueting with me on any of the songs (she is a much better singer than me). She refused but did say that she would do or help as a backing singer if I got other people involved.
So I asked my sister and after a little hesitation she agreed. I then asked my brother and he agreed. I now had to convince their significant others.
This is where I selected the song that I would sing – Amazing. This also tied in with the bride and bridegroom’s relationship. Then it all fell into place. I had a vision of how the others would feature in the song and what they would need to do. This was also the time that I got the backing track done by a studio in Italy.
After some convincing of what would be involved, my brother’s wife and my sister’s husband agreed to join me.
We knew the concept – the women would wear sarees and dark glasses and they would be the backing singers and doing some swirly moves. And the men would wear whatever they wished, but would still need to wear dark glasses.. and the men would be the dancers.
We finally got together for the first time to practice just two days before the wedding. No one had yet worked out what the moves would be and any of the timing of the moves, we had not even sang together yet to work out any of the timing, or any of the harmonies. We practiced a few times that evening and again the next evening on a small Karaoke machine.
The day itself approached. No one had any idea what we had planned. I was do do my Best Man speech and at the end introduce the group. Throughout the day we kept saying the phrase “Celebrate the love of the one you’re with” to my cousin and his bride – taken from the song.
So, 10 minutes before the reception doors opened, we had our sound check with the DJ. We did a practice run and a few photographs were taken by the wedding photographer at this time. Then the doors opened… No one the wiser.
Once I had finished the speech, I introduced the group who walked to their positions and I walked over to mine. We started the song, and I started singing but the DJ had not switched off the microphone that I was using after our sound check earlier in the evening so.. dead microphone. Ha! All the teaching I had about how to breath during singing all went out of my mind… until I got a bit less nervous and a bit more comfortable during the song… This is all in the video, so please watch it and enjoy or cringe or cry.
I’d love to read your comments.
All my love…