Tuesday, January 13, 2009
A Back Door to Greatness
Last Sunday I watched in awe as the late, great Ella Fitzgerald took the stage on PBS's Jazz Icon series. She was live in Stockholm, Sweden and the performance captured her best moments during 1957 and 1963. I wasn't even born, yet I could appreciate her masterful talent and skill. She belted out not 1 but 10 songs back to back with no gulps of water in between, no clothes changes, no perspiration breaks, just a small band that played ever so gracefully behind her. She was effortless and in her glory as her lips scatted and bopped weaving melodies so fast that I started getting dizzy. And then she paused and belted out her final number, a dedication to another great, the late Louis Armstrong. She not only sang but mimicked the sound of his voice as well as the notes he played on his instrument. Like I said a true talent...a real talent. Ms. Fitzgerald didn't need any back-up dancers jumping or gyrating across the stage with little or no clothes on. No, she used her natural talent to captivate her audiences. She didn't have the everyday conveniences that celebrities have today to garner any form of support, no videos,no concerts that demanded $75-$100 a ticket, no nothing. Yet, here was this voluptuous woman, with an even bigger voice who had the tone of 12 angels. A woman, who by beauty critics today would be called average and therefore unable to walk through the front doors of most of the places she performed. I imagine that there may have been times when some doors just wouldn't open at all. I thank God for the Ella's, the Etta's, the Billie's of our past for opening doors and breaking barriers so that I could do many of the things I do with ease. I may not sing like these women but I move like these women. I fight hard every day to break down walls, to push myself to new heights of understanding and knowledge and I use back doors with steps that help elevate me to places in my life that I want to go. In these dew seasons of my life I am grateful and humbled by the low points, the bruises, and the cuts. For without them how would I ever be able to grow?