I decided that my first song would be my very favourite to perform, Andrew Lloyd-Webber's “Pie Jesu;” it is becoming my signature song, as it is my most requested piece, and for my second song I chose “O Mio Babbino Caro,” which is very special to me, because it is the first aria I ever learnt to sing.
Now that my song choices were out of the way, I knuckled down and got practising. Rachael and I have been working very hard on these songs, and I'm actually quite happy with them (being the perfectionist that I am, you have no idea how frustrating it can be), and hopefully, I shall be recording them soon.
I practised very hard every day, making sure that I used all of the techniques I'm learning to make it sound just right.
Then, only two days before the party, Paul messaged me, telling me that all of the students who were going to sing had to do a fifteen-minute set each. I quickly searched through my song list, trying to find some more songs to perform. One of the pieces I selected was “Time to Say Goodbye,” made famous by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, one of my favourite songs, but I was stuck on what other song to include. I know a fair few songs, but I didn't want to perform one that I hadn't studied with Rachael (due to me still being trained, my ear isn't that great; it's much better than it was, though!).
I eventually decided to do an English song, due to my other two songs being in Italian and Latin and I picked the beautiful Irish song “Carrickfergus,” which I loved, but had never performed it before, so I quickly got to work.
I had only two days to perfect this song, so I recorded myself singing it on my phone, and played it back, listening for imperfections; there are some notes in this song that are quite low (for me, at least; I am most comfortable in my soprano range), so I had to really work hard to get them right.
All too soon, the night of the party had arrived. I had already downloaded the backing tracks onto my memory stick, and I warmed up before making my way to the venue (The Jolly Sailor, where I have performed before). When I arrived, I helped a little bit with the decorations before the nerves started kicking in. Don't get me wrong, I love singing, and once I'm on stage, I'm fine, I just get tremendous stage fright. I think waiting to go on is the worst part.
The pub started to swell as Rachael's friends and family began to arrive. Being very shy, and practically shaking with nerves, I sat down, taking small sips of water and taking deep breaths to try and calm myself down.
When Rachael arrived, we all shouted “Surprise!” and I think it worked, because she looked shocked.
Unfortunately, on the way to the venue, Paul's van, which had all of the sound equipment in it, broke down, so he was late arriving, which meant that he was still setting up not long before Rachael arrived, so none of the acts had the chance to do a sound check. None of us minded that much; I just told myself that it wasn't a competition.
When Rachael had greeted everyone, the show got under way; opening for everyone was the Fabulous Miss G, who entertained us with classics, such as “Puttin' on the Ritz,” “Big Spender,” and “Mein Herr,” from “Cabaret.”
Next up was Jodie Vinall, whom I had met the previous year when we both competed at “Southsea's Got Talent.” She did a gorgeous rendition of “Hallelujah;” it was breathtaking, and a wonderful version of “One Night Only.”
After Jodie, it was Harriet's turn to perform; I also met her at “Southsea's Got Talent.” Harriet sang “I Care” by Beyonce and a version of “I Will Always Love You,” that put Whitney Houston to shame.
The next act was Mysti, who performed four of her own original songs. As someone with no talent whatsoever in the that department, I am always so impressed when other people can write their own songs.
The next act was yours truly. I took my place behind the microphone and turned to face the audience. I had a whole speech prepared, thanking Rachael for what she has done for me, and how her family and my family were old friends and how I had met her, but when I looked out at all those people, it was like my brain went, “bye, you're on your own!” My mind went completely blank and thankfully my music soon started up, so I wasn't standing there like a wally.
My first two songs went smoothly, but as I mentioned earlier, “Carrickfergus” was a new song for me, so I just went for it. I think it went alright, as nobody booed me, haha, and then I took a deep breath and was able to introduce my last song, “Time to Say Goodbye;” I put it at the end of my set, as I thought it was appropriate, apropos the name.
When I got to the last line, I just went for it and sang that high note, and I got a standing ovation! I was so happy! That was the end of my set, so I returned to my seat, on a high, to watch the rest of the acts.
The next singer to perform was Mary Red, and she gave an amazing performance of “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. She has marvellous confidence on stage; her music stopped, but she just carried on and sang the rest of the song a cappella. I don't think I could ever do that.
After Mary, Paige Leigh had her turn. She sang “Teenage Dirtbag,” and “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, which got a lot of people up and dancing. She has a wonderfully mature voice and I think “Be My Baby” suits her voice really well.
Gemma Anderson closed the show and she sang several up tempo pieces, including “Everybody Dance,” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which got everybody up dancing. Even me, although I had to be coerced into it; I have no rhythm at all.
After that, we mingled for a while; it was gone midnight when Gemma finished her set, and I chatted to a few people, and made some new friends.
Then, all of Rachael's students, as well as Rachael, were called back on stage and we did an impromptu version of “Amazing Grace,” which I think the audience liked.
After that, it was time to pack up and go home; I eventually fell into bed at nearly 3am! Naughty me, haha.
All in all, I had a great night, met some great new people, and I think we made Rachael proud and gave her a night to remember.
All of the performances were recorded, but please bear in mind that they were filmed on a mobile phone, so the sound quality isn't the best. Here are some of my songs; I hope you enjoy listening to them.
Until next time,