CANDIDATE: Sally Caverzan, King County Council District 1 Candidate
“How I Lost My Voice”
My relationship with the Arts is a deeply personal one. Perhaps I should start this with a trigger warning, as this story is intertwined with emotional abuse and control. My love for the Performing Arts took center stage in my youth. Arguably, I had a gifted voice which garnered me the occasional concert solo and some stage roles, usually chorus or the whore role likely due to my body type. My primary and high schools were affluent, though my family was not. Thus my ability to perform on par with my peers who were able to afford private lessons was one of few blessings that brought my life some joy. My senior year, I was the mezzo-soprano 1st alternate to state (which means I did not get to go); beat out by a gorgeous talented young woman who went on to be Miss WA in the Miss America Pageant the next year. Good but never quite good enough felt like a recurring theme for my teenage existence. I think a lot of artists feel this same pressure and rejection. It’s especially brutal for the young who are trying to find their voice in this world.
It may or may not surprise you that I stopped singing. My best friend for years was the school custodian’s daughter. She too had a beautiful voice and came from a less advantaged home like myself. Like many abused women & girls, I did not recognize that my “safe” person was toxic. Somehow my singing was met with resentment. I was not allowed to sing in her presence: not in the car, not in the grocery store, no radio anywhere. She told me I was a “show-off” if I sang along to the stereo or just the earworm in my head. I became self-conscious as she grew more controlling of my voice. We split ways in our early 20s as many friends do, but not without leaving a mark. I was ashamed to sing. I’d make sure that I’d only sing in the shower if my roommates weren’t home; Not because I worried about bothering them, but for fear they’d find me arrogant. I hid my light under a bushel so to speak. I later regrettably married a man who despite being a bass player, told me he hated to hear me sing in our home. We too parted ways.
A decade later, becoming a mother has helped to heal this musical wound. I sing him campfire songs about being true to himself, exploration and imagination. I use song to share my deepest love to my child. He sings with me or on his own as he finds his own sweet toddler voice. I know that one day I won’t be able to protect him from toxic people. I know that someday someone will tell him that something he loves about himself is wrong. My hope for him is that he will be strong enough in his own identity, that when that moment comes he’ll tell that person to shove-off.
My hope for any person young or old who reads this; remember who you truly are. Create and live-out what brings you joy. Leave behind those who make you feel ‘less-than’ in your art. You and your talents are beautiful whether or not others notice.
“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”
― Gabrielle Roth