Good-bye, sweet Lorraine

July 7, 2010

Tonight Kaia had our farewell pitch-in for Lorraine, who is moving to NC this weekend. As usual, we had a delectable spread with yummy desserts. Wonderful conversation. Jane is recently back from her month of research in Algeria and had good stories about that.

Our gift to Lorraine was a crystal that I received from Janiece when I was taking lessons from her. She had had it for a long time. I always felt that I was a steward for it, and that the right person would come along in time. That person is Lorraine. Each of us held the crystal and sang into it. We improv’d on two versions of Shule Agra/Shule Aroon. It was a lovely little improv and a chance to hear Lorraine sing one more time.

We wound up singing Woyaya for our last piece with her. That’s been a mainstay of the Kaia repertoire, though we never perform it anymore. Lorraine just started in singing it and we fell right into its comfortable grooves.

I wish these damn meds let me fully cry. My heart hurts and I can’t seem to let out. I teared up when we had our last hug and Shared the Love.

Now my mind is just spinning with all the faces and names and memories of different people I’ve sung with over the years. There’s an intimacy that builds between singers, and once you’ve touched another singer with your voice, your relationship is never the same. You may not even like them, but you have a connection that cannot be denied.

I’m now remembering walking the Ridgeway with Cam in England all those years ago. She was afraid to sing with me because she didn’t think she was good enough. We settled on Beatles tunes, after failing miserably at Simon & Garfunkel.

And Ardas—bright, brilliant Ardas—her sweet voice and shining spirit remain a great inspiration. I miss terribly being able to sing with her. She’s happily ensconced on the West Coast. And Sara! How I miss her wit as well as her song.

I even think of Allison tonight, who, with all her faults, had a good R&B voice that was fun to listen to.

Is there space, in the night, for all these whirling memories, all these singing voices? I hear so many tuneful sounds and see the lights of so many who have gone on from me. All the way back to Annette Havran sitting on “the green thing” in grade school and singing our lungs out. Back to singing in church with Paula, with her stock church harmony ending that still cracks us up. Singing I Sing the Body Electric with Corey Risden at our high school graduation.

So much music. So many lives. Dancing in and out of memory tonight.

Lorraine’s last gig

June 26, 2010

Just back from Third Street Park, where Kaia had our last gig with the lovely Lorraine. She was crying after the show and I wish I hadn’t been on my after-show high so that I could cry along with her.

The turnout was a little lower than I expected, but what can you expect in this weather? We were lucky to be in the shade almost the whole time. Poor Lara had a face full of straight-on sun while she was singing Yonda Come Day: “Day done broke / In my soul” should have been “Day done broke / In my eye.” She had to perform with her eyes shut for most of the song.

It was great to see some old friends out in the audience, and to see kids and others dancing. We do a lot of dance tunes but this might have been the first time people actually danced to them.

I don’t know what we’ll do without Lorraine. She has such a versatile voice. She brings a great soul sound to the group. Plus she percusses. Is that a word? To percuss. Sounds good to me. Anyway, she has all this elasticity in her voice so she can do quick trills and such. Her lower range is rich and she has a nice upper range as well, higher than most other altos can manage.

Aside from her voice and her great performance presence, I will miss her. She not only has great music ideas, she has great input when the group is processing anything. She has these fabulous bedroom eyes and a fantastic laugh. We will be diminished without her.

Poor thing, she is moving on after more than four years with us. And she’s moving into a Kaia-less future. Her dad stopped by to visit recently. He’s also a talented musician. When he heard us rehearse, he agreed with Lorraine’s assessment: “You’re not going to find anything like that.” Sadness! One would hope that North Carolina would have something to offer her that’s as fulfilling as Kaia. Of course I’m pissed as hell that she’s being forced to leave because she can’t get out of poverty in Bloomington. She works two jobs, has no health insurance, and is just barely making ends meet. If she could find good work here, she’d take it in a second. Why does Bloomington have to be so good and so bad at the same time? I’m tired of losing people.

Sweet Lorraine, I will miss you.