My (brief) Career as a Singer
Before I was a teacher, wife, mom or development professional, I was a singer/guitarist . When I was about 15, someone gave my dad a ukelele. I appropriated it and learned a few chords. It was the 60s and folk music era was in full swing. I played Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary albums over and over, writing down the lyrics to songs. Desperate for a guitar, I finally talked my parents into buying a Gibson for me. I taught myself basic chords, becoming good enough to solo as the "country gal" in the high school spring concert. With babysitting money, I upgraded to a beautiful Goya guitar, which went with me to Wittenberg University. Lots of people played and sang and we taught each other. The university let us turn an abandoned house (soon to be torn down to make way for the music school) into a coffeehouse called the Witt's End. I ran the coffee/doughnut concession and performers from area schools came to play--including me on several occasions. I often sang at campus events with my friend J.T. and was thrilled to perform at The Lemon Tree, a coffeehouse in Dayton, OH. In the summer, I joined Roadshow Entertainers, made up of several doctors and female singers, who performed mostly pop music at public events and at a dive called Niko's Speakeasy. We even recorded jingles for a local radio station. A couple guys I knew opened a downtown Toledo spot called The Last Gasp Saloon, which served minimal food and a lot of beer, and they invited me to perform, as well. I had a great mentor in Dave Browning, a Toledo musician who gave me a lot of encouragement. It was all such fun while it lasted.
After graduation, I taught elementary school and often brought my guitar into the classroom to enrich the social studies curriculum. I loved teaching the kids "This Land is Your Land", "The Wabash Cannon Ball" and other classics. The nadir of my singing career perhaps came when I sang on a local children's TV show with Skippy the Scarecrow (a tall, skinny radio DJ). Between his banter with a small studio audience of kids and the cartoons, I sang a song or two. The principal of my elementary school thought it was inappropriate, so I had to quit! After our three kids came along, I sang with them and often just for my own pleasure. When my son was in high school, I turned my beloved Goya over to him. A couple years ago, my daughter and son-in-law gave me a new guitar for Christmas. Unfortunately, with increasingly stiff joints, I have trouble forming chords and my once-pure alto voice has become quite rusty, but I'm trying to get back in the groove. If Joan Baez can still sound good at 77, there may be hope for me!
Leave a Reply.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.