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The Music Experience That Had Me In Tears

The Music Experience That Had Me In Tears

One of you asked:

What is the best experience you’ve ever had?

I’ve been blessed with many, but the first one that came to mind takes me back to 2007.

My sister, Pa Kou was born on April Fool’s Day. It’s so fitting, because Pa Kou adds quite the spice to my life. (If only you knew.) I love that woman.

In our music history as sisters, I'm Team Celine and she’s Team Christina.

Pa Kou and me at Ho'opika Beach Park, Maui. December 2017.

Pa Kou and me at Ho'opika Beach Park, Maui. December 2017.

So in April 2007, I gifted Pa Kou tickets to see Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics concert at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We were both undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and it was perfect timing that Christina would be playing nearby during Pa Kou’s birthday month.

At the time, I was a new recording artist who’d just released a debut album, Nyob Ib Sab, nine months earlier. I didn’t understand music composition. I didn’t understand how to properly work with a microphone in the recording booth. 

All I understood was how to sing.

On April 20th, Pa Kou and I sat in our arena seats patiently waiting for Christina to come on. The entire arena became dark. Naturally, the crowd screamed.

And then in near silence, a spotlight fell upon a bright figure on stage. Suddenly, a voice pierced through the arena.

“Birds…flyin’ high…”

In all her glory and belly-bearing diamond hoodie, Nicole Scherzinger, the lead singer of The Pussycat Dolls, appeared.

“You know how I feel…
Sun in the sky…
You know how I feel....”

The vibrations of her vibrato went straight to my heart.

“Breeeeee...eee...eeeee...eee..eee...eee...eee...eee..eeze drifting on by…
You know how I feel...oooh...”

Steady, heart. Steady.

“Aaaaand...freedooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom...is a….miiiiiiine.”

A straight shot to the heart.
Tears jerked out in response.

“And IIIII know how I feel.”

By now, I was on the edge of my seat.
I wanted - no, I needed more.

“It’s a new dawn…it’s a new day...Milwaukee…”

The crowd finally lost it.

“It’s a new life for me,
Woah...woah...woah...woah wooooo….”

I thanked the arena gods for keeping the lights off.

“And I’m feeling...Milwaukee, y’all make me feeeeeeeeel….so gooooooooooooood.”

I pretended I had something in my eyes. I didn’t want anyone to see these tears.

And for the rest of the concert, I would go in search of the same feeling.

Pa Kou didn’t cry. I bet she’s reading this right now thinking, “Oh, I remember that performance. It was nice, but I didn’t feel anything.” (It’s ok. I still love you.) And you may be feeling the same too after this video.

As a lifelong singer and music lover, in any song or performance, my ear drums first go in search of the unique layers of a singer’s voice.

I listen for a story in her voice.
I listen for pain knotted in her voice.
I listen for love scents lingering in her voice.  

And Nicole Scherzinger’s voice alone, in that dark arena, where thousands were engulfed in the vibrations of her only sound, penetrated the heart of my soul. I heard the story, the pain knots, the love scents. It felt as if two eternal lovers had finally found each other...again.

That’s why, in any given (preferably dimly lit) performance, tears can fall from my eyes. It’s why this moment is one of the best music experiences I’ve ever had.

This experience reminded me that the voice, this instrument I've nurtured and learned to love since I was 10 years old, will forever tug at my heart in all directions.

The singing voice will forever have me.

And I’m grateful it’s part of why you’re here. Thank you.

Okay. You have me teary-eyed now. Good bye. 

YOUR TURN! Have you ever experienced a voice or sound that touched you so deeply? How does a voice impact how you listen to music or performances? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time...

Dream BIG,

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Behind The "Ib Tiam" MV: Kong Lor

Behind The "Ib Tiam" MV: Kong Lor