Hello, I’m a Firework.

Thinking about my 2023 goals, and I think I may want to sing live again.

Yes, again. Singing has always been a part of my life. However, most people I know might not realize I trained as a vocalist in a performing arts school. This was way before The Voice and American Idol were even a thing. These days I sing to myself while strolling through my neighborhood or serenading my cats at home.

But sometimes, I really want to sing live again. Live in person, in front of other people. 

Like that time, I performed a pop mashup in front of an audience of 750 co-workers. Singing in front of your peers is very different from singing in the shower or car karaoke. It was thrilling, nerve-wracking, and almost as scary as my first time performing burlesque.

So yeah, I know what you’re thinking: how have I not heard this story before? I’ve been holding onto this video for a long time, but now that the company no longer exists, I feel I can share the clip and the story behind it.

And so here we go… 

Once upon a time, many years ago, after a night of karaoke, my co-worker and friend @tweedskirtmoran challenged me to perform at the annual sales conference talent show. Halfway into the year of facing my fears, it seemed like live performing was the next thing to try.

The last time I had any solid vocal training, I attended Mark Twain JHS for the Gifted and Talented. Singing anything takes practice, and it took a lot of preparation to get my voice ready to perform my solo in front of a live audience.

First, I chose a song. I saw Alan Cummings perform at Cyndi Lauper’s Home for the Holidays concert the previous December. I enjoyed his mashup–they were all the rage at the time–performance of “Someone Like You/Edge of Glory/Firework.” 

Then, I found a vocal coach. I wish I could remember his name. I can see his face, and the piano in his studio apartment on the Upper West Side. Oh, and I do remember that he was a traveling Broadway actor, and I happened to find him in between gigs. 

And finally, a piano player. I enlisted a fellow co-worker Peter Cherukuri to be my accompaniment on stage. 

Now I had no grand illusion that I could mimic Alan Cummings or the vocal ranges of Adele, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry’s original recordings. So if you’re expecting an America’s Got Talent ringer, this is not it. 

Like everything in life, I put my own spin on it. And maybe, if I had more time to rehearse, it could’ve been a better performance, but sometimes the dare to dream is less about thinking and more about doing it. 

I guess you’ll see for yourself if you decide to watch the video

Truth be told, I hadn’t watched the entire video until almost a decade later. In my memory, I thought I botched up the song and was booed off stage by Jerry Springer, when in actuality, as the video confirms, he was in my corner. So you could say he was one of my champions, awarding me a score of 9 (out of 10). 

I can’t remember who the other judges were, and the emcee’s name also escapes me. However, he looks a lot like that excited penguin from Edinburgh Zoo. I have always had a soft spot for penguins, so there’s that.

I scored 20/30 points, which I think is pretty damn good for a first-time-ever solo live performance.

And who knows, maybe I’ll make good on my intention for a repeat in 2023 only to a much smaller audience.