I feel very inspired tonight.
A few months ago my friend George asked me to come down to the Coffee House Saturday Night and perform for the kids at Tulsa Youth Services. TYS is a program for teenagers to help in crisis situations such as abuse, homelessness, rehabilitation, and crime prevention. Among other things. Each Saturday night they have an event called Coffee House Saturday night. The kids show up, socialize, and play games. It's a safe place for teenagers of various backgrounds to get together and have a good time. And on occasion there's live music. Well, tonight Andy and I were the invited guest.
You know that saying "everything happens for a reason"? Tonight, that saying couldn't be more true. See, it's been a little up and down lately and my spirit was as rainy as this drenched fall day. I've been feeling challenged to keep my new positively positive outlook and fighting a desire to hide away from the world. But tonight, it was about putting on my happy face and giving these kids a show. And what a show it turned out to be!
Andy and I arrived about an hour before our set. We just knew the kids wouldn't be interested in our brand of folksy/blues/soul, but we figured it would be a nice opportunity to do another live gig. When we first walked in I saw the stage to my right and kids playing video games on a giant screen near the back. Others were sitting around chatting and looking at us as if, perhaps, we were there to provide a lecture on safe sex or driving responsibly. Eventually our "road crew"( i.e. the Julies) showed up and it was getting close to start the show. Shelton, being the eternal teenager that she is, locked her gaze on to a boy, about 13, playing some video game as if he supper depended on it. She made her way over and started asking questions about his technique and game stats. Super cute that Shelton. Finally, a rather polite young man asked "Scuse me, Ma'am. When are you going to start singing"? I began to think that this may turn out to be a lot of fun. Just minutes before I got on stage, I found myself engaged in a deep conversation with a 16 year old boy named Jacob who proudly sported a quite impressive knowledge about music spanning several genres. Finally, it was 8 p.m. - show time. About ten or so teenagers gathered around the stage, positioned on a glob of bean bags flopped down in a mountain just at the edge of where I would be singing. As soon as we started, the kids began clapping and singing along....as we did mostly all covers.
It didn't take long for me to set eyes on Nicholas. He was seated almost center and after each song he would hold his hands up in a heart shape and mouth "I love you". Holy crap! These teenagers are having....fun! Andy gave me a look. That kind that indicates "wow, I'm having fun too". We raced through the first part of our set covering The Beatles to Whitney Houston and lost track of time completely. I even put Tuller on the spot and made her sing a few unplanned songs with me including the original song Andy and I wrote called "Hush". I was just having so much fun, bantering back and forth with the kids, hearing their input and watching their faces, hearing them cheer and just being 100% present in the moment shared with these teenagers. It was great!
My buddy Jacob wasn't lying about his rich knowledge of music. That kid sang along to every single song. No matter how obscure I thought it would be to a 16 year old boy, his lips were in sync with each lyric. And he knew all of the artist we were covering and speaking about. The whole time all of these kids were curled up on the bean bags still, listening intently and giving me what was perhaps, the very best audience participation. Ever.
Once we finished with the whole set, the kids were on their feet waiting to greet us as we walked off of the stage. Nicholas, my little heart shaped hand boy, approached me with the most earnest smile and asked "Carrie, can I play some songs for you on the piano and you can sing with me"? My heart melted into a pile of goo right there. Of course Nicholas! So, he and I sat at the upright and he played a few songs (self taught on the piano and VERY good no less) as we sang and harmonized. Simply put, it was beautiful. When he finished his last song he told me he'd be performing on one of these Saturday nights in November and softly asked "will you come"? Again, melted heart. Yes. Yes my dear, sweet, pure hearted boy. I will be there.
Lucky for me Shelton was there, camera in hand, snapping shots the entire time. And before we left Andy, me, and the TYS kids took a group picture snuggled on the bean bags all together. I can't wait to have that photo.
I left smiling ear to ear. What a beautiful experience. Thank you TYS kids for reminding me what sharing really is all about. I shared my heart with you through song, and you shared your hearts and ears with me. I'm truly blessed to have had that time with you and I look forward to it again.
Everything really does happen for a reason.