My journey as an entertainer had been a long one and I've definitely paid my dues. I have been slandered, hated on, fake friended, discriminated against, and stalked because of what I choose to do with my life. I had always been interested in singing and I was always interested in singing for people. My dad bought me my first karaoke machine when I was 9 years old and the first karaoke song I learned was Crazy by Patsy Cline. I would sing in my garage by myself or in my closet and would pray that someday I would be able to do it for people. As I got older and the choir years approached in middle school and high school I began to try out for solos. I would make every solo in jr. high! I was so excited to get to go up to the microphone and sing. When I reached high school I had a new choir director who's daughter was in our class. He was the prime example of someone who used favoritism. There was one time my friend Diana and I decided we wanted to join an exclusive show choir at our school and we were instructed to pick any song of our liking and we would have to audition. We chose a duet with Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand. We practiced this ALL summer long and every chance we got. When school started our senior year we went in during our lunch hour to audition and literally knocked this song out of the park. All of our hard work and dedication had paid off! No one wanted to try out after us because we had done so well. In the back of the room stood the choir directors daughter with her arms crossed and her eyes filled with jealousy. We didn't make the show choir. We were crushed because we knew we were good.
I started to develop a horrible case of stage fright because he constantly rejected me for every show, solo opportunity, etc. I began to believe that I really was bad. But then I remembered all the solos I got in jr. high and realized that this guy was just not going to let me in because of his daughter and the favoritism of her and all of her friends. I knew this because there were many awesome singers who had been rejected by this man along with myself. His loss! Funny how most of these kids were white too. Hmmm... Anywho, I decided to start going to karaoke with my friend Mark! He would host in a coffee shop next to the place I now do most of my gigs at! I would go out alone and sing Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears songs. Then my high school girlfriends starting joining me and it became so much fun. For 5 years (age 16-21) I would get a horrible burning feeling in my stomach when it was my turn to sing. Every time I would sing a note that feeling would go away and when I would have to pause during the song that burning feeling came back. My stage fright was the worst! But, I never let anyone know it. By age 19 I had already known Mark for about 3 years at this point. I became seasoned in karaoke contests. I would go out to bars alone and sing my little heart out and win! It wasn't always a win, but when I would even come close I knew I was on the right track.
Mark told me about a place called Graham Central Station. I had been there a few times and saw one of my girlfriends performing along with some entertainers and was mesmerized. He told me that they were holding auditions. I was soooo excited! This was in May of 03. He came back later and told me that most of the entertainers were downing the idea of me trying out. So...I gave up and said forget it. Then by August of 03 I changed my mind and decided to give it a try. I went in for an audition and sang with all of my heart. It was the only thing that I felt that I was good at and I needed to prove it to myself. I got hired that same day even though my Mom was totally against me working at a club...much less a place that had 7-8 clubs under one roof! I auditioned in secret and when I made it she was so proud that she didn't mind me working there anymore. I was a singer!!! I sang in a place that held almost 4.000 people and when I started it was packed to the brim. Everyday driving to work when I saw that sign I would get anxiety. I never ever let my audience know how nervous I was. I walked in like I owned the place. Through all of my years of performing and stage fright I never told anyone how nervous I was or how scared I was. No way! People smell your fear and telling everyone you're nervous only makes your nerves worse. I learned quickly that it was either fake it or fall apart. Just as I started to believe I was bad because of my choir teacher I started to believe I was awesome because of my "fake" confidence. That pretend confidence grew into real confidence and here I am years later running my own gigs thanks to Mark who I've now known for 13 years! My point being....had I given up in August of 03 because of what people thought or given up because my choir teacher rejected me I would have never had the opportunity to model for local magazines, win several trophies at Borderfest, and be nominated for The Girls that Rock the Valley etc! I got numerous opportunities and paid jobs just by simply putting myself out there! I would had never had the opportunity to meet and get to work with all of the talented people I did at GCS. I never took one single day of performing for granted and rarely missed work because I knew this opportunity wouldn't last forever.
The girls were mean to me when I started Graham, I have lost contests to people who didn't deserve to win, had rumors spread about me, have had both my engagement and marriage picked apart, been on stage for hours because of corporate people in the building, had people come up to my face and let me know I've gained weight, been hated on because I've won a contest, gotten discriminated against at contests because I sing for a living, been made out to be a horrible person because I work in bars, and lost relationships. I NEVER gave up! So...when people say my job is "easy" they don't know the half of it. Haha! If being an entertainer is something you're interested in then you have to expect all of these things to come with the territory. You have to understand that you win some and lose some. You have to endure and get a thick skin. This is not the business for the weak! You have to know that things will not always go your way. But, most of all you have to understand that this is fun. If you lose the fun and you can't have fun doing it..then there's no point. So...when I say I've paid my dues...It means that I've endured, experienced, and have done this for 13 years! Just thought I'd throw my story out there for you all that need a little inspiration. :)