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WHEN WE MET (On Stage - Days 3 and 4)

The next night as I rushed onstage just as the curtain was going up, I found my stool and microphone placed to the right of Myrna and in front of the Imperials as Elvis had told me he wanted and had decided. I was able hear the girls a little better, sense what they were doing and join in where I could, and also talk to Myrna a bit, which helped immensely in just "feeling" where any song was about to go, and intuitively know what Elvis was doing as he continued changing the entire show according to how he felt. I even began to get the hang of his spontaneous "change-up" feels to any song right in the middle of them, and surprisingly, without even thinking, was able to add a part here and there, including an obligato (solo part sung by a soprano alone, above a chorale or choir) without thinking. It just all began to happen. Also I could see him better as he cued us as to where he was going, and I could see him, read his eyes and hand cues. I just had to ignore the madness of the crowds and concentrate on the moment at hand, the "Now" moment onstage, and my voice.

Those of you who are singers know that one of the most important things a singer learns from a very early age is how to pace ones-self in a show so as to have power or range needed for a particular number after having sung for a long time. Well! This was "out of the question" and "impossible" while working with Elvis, because if he didn't know what he was going to do then we certainly did not. I found myself wishing I hadn't tried to belt out with the girls a few moments before in one number, because he decided to call up a song that required me to use the extreme top end of the voice, and I wasn't secure I had what I needed left in the voice. Different support, placement, and thought processes for either belting or soaring in the classical style of singing are required, and I would need to protect the high-end soprano range for the duration of my intended employment with Elvis. Got THAT settled! I still had momentsof thinking, "I don't belong here! What is a classical soprano doing up here with all of these rock n' roll musicians and attempting to sing with these Incredibly Powerful and Creative girl's voices I knew so well as... the greatest gospel/R&B girls group in musical history?!!! Oh, Kathy, you have really gotten yourself into an awkward position with this show!" followed by another "What am I doing here?!!!".

A most remarkable memory I have of that night was the clear realization that no matter what Elvis decided to do, wherever he decided to "go" with a feeling change right in the middle of any number, we all went right with him intuitively. I was amazed. This included the full orchestra! It was as if we were all of One Mind. Elvis was the generator and we were the extensions of his universe. Yes, each person on that stage had years of experience, but... this was a revelation I shall never forget. That moment I realized we all mysteriously belonged in his universe and were dashing through space as a "perfectly in-sync" atom or galaxy, each with his or her own planetary position, yet moving perfectly with the Sun... Elvis. The epiphony I had was that this experience was a joyfull moment in time that was not about seeking rudimentary vocal or musical "perfection", but that Elvis and "it" was about spontaneous emphasis on "Feeling" and the joyful expression of "Being in the Moment". The times one realizes he or she is really living in the "Now" are special enough,but this... this... was so incredible. A stage jammed full of technically great musicians and singers who had somehow become ONE.

"This is MAGIC!", I pondered.

The Sweet Inspirations invited me to their dressing room, and I got to know the four of them. There were four Sweets in August of 1970; Estelle Brown, Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shemwell, and Ann Williams (who left not long after and leaving just three). We had no idea that night what destiny had planned for us to experience and go through that night, nor how close we'd become in the next 7 years. We pretty much clung to each other as we flew through space faster than most comets and depended on each other for sanity and DEAR LIFE.

The next night was very odd. Elvis surprised me again in the dark of the wings as the drums were rolling for his entrance on the other side. He was standing legs apart, his macrame belt swinging, staring me in the eyes, saying excitedly and quickly, "If anybody asks you tonight, just tell them you're engaged! Alright?"What?Why!" I questioned.

"Please do this for me, okay? I'll explain it to you later". I was disturbed and baffled, but had no time to worry about it at that moment... he and I were the only ones not yet onstage.

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