What Happens When You Stop "Singing"? (or Thanks, Universe, for the Ear Infection)

I have a confession to make.

I told myself when I started Hope Sings that it was all about helping people – to empower women, to “harness the power of song and story to change the world.” My stated mission was to put the power of inspiring true story back into pop music – to Sing Stories and Change Lives (to misquote our tag-line). Sounds good, right?

In my heart, I knew a big part of why I started Hope Sings was for me. I wanted to swim in a bigger pop/international pond than the musical theatre one where I’d been. I dreamed of writing with all different kinds of big exotic fish, traveling the world as I created huge hit songs.

We have had many satisfying successes - our songs supporting microfinance, our Songs for Sandy initiative, the anthem for UN Women. I believe we have helped people. And I know I've written next to nothing in the four years since I started Hope Sings

And now I find myself facing a crisis – a crisis of inspiration.

I am facing it because of an ear infection.

A summer swim with my son, an overactive Q-Tip, a stubborn plug of earwax, a visit to an ENT who noticed something I hadn't – and today, here I am looking at what truly inspires me, what my real talents are, and what happens when you stop singing - literally and metaphorically.

I've pondered whether this line of posting of belongs with Hope Sings. But I think there is something worth sharing about this journey I'm beginning. Another more personal aspect to the idea of hope and singing.

In recent weeks, my energy and attention has shifted from creating songs and shows to another use of my creative energies - healing myself. And trying to uncover where the disease (or "dis-ease" as Esther Hicks calls it - genius) came from.

I believe that when you are blocked creatively - or in any part of your life, since your life is your biggest and best creation - disease will follow. So letting yourself Sing - and letting your hopes and dreams Sing - isn't just nice, it's fundamental. It's key to wellness and thriving, a matter of life and death - as much as microloans are essential to women in Latin America. 

More on What the ENT Saw in the next post.

But first: a song that reminds us how SINGING defines who you are (however you define singing) – whether you achieve “Success” or not. Jim Croce’s “I’ve Got A Name”:

Like the North wind whistling down the sky

I've got a song
, I've got a song

Like the whip-poor-will and the babies crying

I've got a song, I've got a song

And I carry it with me and I sing it proud

If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud

Moving me down the highway

Rolling me down the highway

Moving ahead so life won't pass me by.


Launch Day! One woman song for International Women’s Day

It doesn't get any better than today.

March 8, 2013. A very snowy Friday. Despite the traffic snafus, the room at the UN is overflowing - hundreds of men and women in colorful outfits, excitement bubbling. It's International Women' Day.

It's not yet 10am, but they almost won't let me in - it's the overflow room for me. No! But someone snags me and pulls me into the room, to a seat in the front row. It's reserved in my name. Wow.

Isha Sesay, CNN anchor, makes introductory remarks. She says, Today we have a special treat for you - the first theme song ever written for a UN Agency. 

That would be our song.

Then Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon makes his remarks. He closes his speech by saying, " If we work together - as our new song says - We Shall Shine." 

That would be my lyric.

Then they played the video for "One Woman." Ms. Bachelet, Exec Dir of UN Women and former president of Chile, sang along; if she could have stood up and danced, I think she might have (that's what she did at the pre-launch sneak performance on Tuesday).

And when it was over, people cheered.  Ms. Bachelet and Ban-Ki Moon gestured for me to stand up, so I did. People cheered. I cried. 

Here's a terrible picture of Mr. Moon shaking my hand.

And then - how cool is this? - UN Women rented a karaoke booth so people could sing the song. They audio and videotaped the performances for the next fun and fabulous music video for "One Woman." 

May everyone sing this song, in their own language, in their own voice. May we all shine.