My opera class has a ratio of music majors to non-music majors of 2:3. . . and and in this case, the non-majors are “non” with a capital “N”. By that I mean that none of them are theater or communication majors who have snuck over to opera because of its connection to their own field of endeavor. These are all guys from completely unrelated majors – and all of them, to a man, are athletes – so Opera class is for them, I’m sure, a horizon-broadening experience of the most wrenching sort. But so far so good, I’m happy to say. These young men seem to be the kind of young scholar-athletes who are serious about their studies, enjoy learning new things, and also relish a challenge.
And towards that end, and maybe inspired by these students, I am trying to expose myself to some unfamiliar musical flavors myself. So Sunday night, when I had a few minutes to sit in front of the television and I noticed that the Grammys were coming on, I didn’t flee…. I stayed put, determined to watch at least a few minutes of it, for as long as my head could take the head-banging noise that is so much of popular music to my ears. . .
And although I can’t say I enjoyed the opening number, sung by U2, I knew enough about their stature and could gather from the tumultuous reception they received that this was a BIG DEAL. And when Jennifer Hudson accepted one of the first Grammys of the night, I knew enough about her personal tragedy to appreciate the importance of the moment, even if I couldn’t possibly name you one single song she had ever sung.
And then. . . out on to the stage strode a dazzlingly attractive woman named Carrie Underwood, someone I had vaguely heard of (the way I’ve heard of certain NBA stars) but about whom I could have told you nothing apart from “she’s female.” Carrie Underwood seems to be one of these country singers who has “moved to the city” – and she tore into a song about not-knowing-what-happened-last-night that had most of the crowd on its feet.
And I loved it. This fan of Joan Sutherland and all things opera absolutely loved this singer and the song and the mighty impact which she made on that audience. It was electrifying. I really liked her voice – it was powerful yet not-screamed . . . attractive yet not-generic . . . expressive yet not-overblown. I was mesmerized.
And here’s the rub. This morning I went to our new TV and brought up the DVR mode because I wanted to watch this performance again, so as to maybe catch the name of the song and to gather up a couple more specific observations about why I liked it so much. But I quickly realized that for some reason I was only able to record the first minute of the program. So I only have the opening credits. And I am SAD! I actually want to hear this song again. I might even walk into the Barnes and Noble CD section and try to find it – although wandering two aisles away from my beloved classical section is going to feel mighty strange. But then again, that’s what happens when you discover something and someone new and exciting. It means moving down a new aisle that you never even thought about visiting before.