It’s very rare and unusual that I get to enjoy a Friday night all by myself and when I have those moments, I cherish them and use that time wisely. So, I decided to take this opportunity to watch my daughter, Ellis, perform in a well-known club in New York City. I sat and watched her perform for a few hours and was so proud of her; her voice is unlike any other
It was getting really late and she was still playing another set or so, so I decided to take a quick stroll around the city before I head home. As I was walking through the streets, I experienced something so surreal – I could still hear her voice from her earlier performance and then blended sounds from the past. I became overwhelmed with emotion and unexpectedly started to cry as a flood of memories came back to me. I particularly remembered when she was six years old and she said she wanted to be a singer and she asked me how she could achieve that dream. I remember her as a little girl, with so much ambition and love for music – it’s all she wanted to do. And her enthusiasm and dedication to all the singing and music lessons have paid off in so many ways. To see and hear her perform so fearlessly in a huge crowd… words cannot even describe the emotions I felt. She was up there following and living her dream, not for money or fame, but because this is who she always was.
When I got in my car that night to head home, I turned on the radio and listened to the E Street radio station where they were rebroadcasting a Springsteen concert from 1988. Bruce Springsteen (my favorite artist) was on stage, telling a story about how he wrote a song when he was 15, and he said he remembered it was the first time he felt he had found his own voice. He said what inspired him was an album he had been listening to by Roy Orboson. He said that Orboson’s album spoke to him, and that Roy Orbison was actually there in the audience and it was his birthday. He then sang the song he wrote in honor of Roy Orbison and it was, Born To Run, which is the same song that launched Springteen’s career- his first hit. Again I found myself overwhelmed and crying, because I imagined at that moment, how my daughter felt when she found her voice and I just heard it in her songs.
What I realized is, that when you look back on the canvas that you create in life, the greatest thing you can do is to allow your children to find their voice, their voice not yours. My wife and I did not create our daughter’s music nor put pressure on her to make it happen. My daughter did it all on her own. From 11 years old, she had written songs and just encouraged her to find her own voice. Believe me, it was mostly my wife; I was working so hard and if anything, I had a tendency to try to inspire them into a mini version of me. It took a while, but my wife helped me step back, and encourage our children to be who they want to be. I also realized that the best thing we did was that we always followed our own voice and we set the example for them. This came from both of our parents who taught us to be ourselves and that anything is possible.
On the way home, I called Carolyn, my wife, to tell her about the night. When I told her about my surreal and connected experience, we both started crying again and I felt a deeper and even more overwhelming love for my wife and our family. I realized shortly after, that I was also emotional for all those children and adults who never found their voice, who feel like they are broken and never feel like they got to be them. All the kids that are told that they are damaged and that they will never do anything. I felt empathy for all the parents who have had their dreams for their children taken away because they were told there is no hope. I also feel sad because I know it is not true and that everyone can find their voice at any age. It’s never too late.
The greatest gift we can give to our children is to allow them to find their voice and mostly we just have to relinquish control and try our best not to persuade them into being something they’re not – even if the intention is pure. Protect them from people in the world that will try to put them in a box and limit their potential. But you also have to find your voice as an adult- you must always lead by example. It’s never too late for you to find your own happiness and don’t let anyone silence you. Sing your song even if no one listens. Let that be your legacy and the example to your children.
Every person and every child deserves to be heard and to find their voice. My mission and the mission of my wife and I is to help children and families find that and to let them know that they are beautiful and they have a beautiful voice to let all children sing. I believe this is one of the many ways to make the world a better place. I hope we can all do that, imagine what the world would be like.