Last night I went out to celebrate Miss Patterson‘s centennial at a local bar. It was a small, hot, dimly lit bar, but had a nice atmosphere to it. That evening was also the bar’s Karaoke Night. As soon as I heard the plans to hit up this bar for karaoke, I was ready to go innnnnnnn. (FYI: I kinda like to sing). Anyway, there were some great acts, good acts, subpar acts, but mainly “you just don’t give a fugg about our ears, do you?” acts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to procure a recording of Miss Patterson singing to share with the rest of the interwebs. She sang Like A Virgin and was actually pretty decent. I missed her singing Push It though. I’m sure it was a winner. All in all, I had a great time celebrating a good friend’s birthday.
However, my favorite part of the evening was, of course, when I got to get up and sing. Now, I’ve been singing since I was in the 8th grade and singing well since I was a sophomore in college. But instead of singing something by myself, I ended up singing two duets. One was Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. The other was Luther Vandross & Beyonce – The Closer I Get To You. Both are amazing songs performed by legendary artists. Now, I can’t even remember the last time I sang a duet with anyone in public, but it’s a very exhilarating activity to me.
Singing a duet is a pretty intimate experience. When you’re singing a solo, you are on an island. Just you and your instrument. Swaying this way and that way with your voice in exactly the way that you want to when you want to. You own it. Even with a choir or backup singers, a solo is all about the soloist and where he/she chooses to take the song. But with a duet, it’s a….marriage, if you will. It’s not all about you anymore. You don’t call all of the shots. You can’t take all of the spotlight. You have to give some power and control away. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard duets before that sounded more like two solosits who accidentally got booked for the same time slot. I don’t think that’s how it should be done though. You and your partner should act as counterbalances to each other. Feeling out each note and emotion in preparation to give support or take the lead, without ever giving a verbal command. It requires paying attention to your partner and them paying attention to you. Gently singing ad libs to add flavor to your partner’s words. Harmonizing with them to give the notes warmth. Belting out a note just before your partner finishes their line to let everyone know that you’re about to take over for a little bit. See, it has to be a give and take. When done right, what emerges is something that is much greater than the sum of it’s parts.
That’s how I felt last night. Me and my partner played off of each other pretty well, especially considering we’ve never sung together before (just because you’re singing a well-known song with someone doesn’t mean your voices will blend well). And according to the people there, we sounded good. Afterwards, it left me with a feeling of euphoria. To, in that instant, be moving in perfect harmony with someone. To be slow dancing without ever touching their body. That’s what singing does to me.