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My First Time Singing at Beloit: Here’s What Happened

Performing in front of large audiences has never been a challenge for me. Even as a little girl, I was always eager to take the stage and act, dance, or even present speeches. As much as I’ve loved to sing, though, I have never been all that confident about singing for large audiences. Heck, I get nervous singing in front of my parents. This is not a great mindset to possess when you dream of being on Broadway, I must say.

 My senior year of high school, I was supposed to play Erzulie in the musical “Once On This Island.” It was my dream role; I was going to sing my first full-length solo before an audience. It was a dreamy love ballad entitled “The Human Heart.” I even paid for vocal lessons to perfect that solo. Then came COVID. I never got the chance to face my fear of singing for a large crowd. As a child, I wasn’t as insecure about singing for groups; but then, kids are quite shameless, aren’t they? As I aged, I became more and more uneasy about it. Being cast in my dream role did wonders for my confidence regarding my musical theatre abilities, and furthermore, my voice. That was why I knew I had to put my confidence to the test at BITE of Beloit.

The Beloit Independent Theatre Experience (BITE) has hosted the annual charity event, BITE of Beloit for five years straight. The event is open to the public as well. A dinner is provided for a small fee and donations are collected. At the end of the night of performances, the donations collected are put towards the charity of the winner’s choice. This year’s event was hosted in the Science Center atrium on Nov. 14. Upon learning about the upcoming event, I went out on a whim and signed up to perform. The charity I chose to donate to if crowned the winner was the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. I chose this charity in honor of my grandmother, who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer when I was only five years old.

I didn’t win; that honor went to Sonali Pendharkar ‘22, who wowed the crowd with her dancing skills. Despite not winning, I had an excellent experience! Flexing my musical theatre muscles, I sang three of my favorite musical theatre solos. To help myself feel more comfortable, and to get in character, I even did some costume changes. Prior to my first song, which was “Frank Mills” from the 1968 rock musical “Hair,” I was nervous! Even after starring in the fall play just a day prior, I was nervous to perform for a crowd of less than 50 people. Insane! But singing has always been a vulnerable thing for me, so I was anxious to allow my voice to be heard.

Boy, was I wrong to be nervous. My first song went well. But my second song? Now, that was an experience. I have never had an audience applaud me in the middle of a song. As a soprano, I’m most comfortable and skilled in the higher vocal register; I showed off on this a bit during my second song. I sang “Waiting For Life” from “Once On This Island,” an upbeat and hopeful tune with a multitude of powerful high notes that are written to be held out for a long time. This was the song for which I was most nervous. My nerves got the best of me and I flubbed a few lyrics, but I laughed it off, and some audience members claimed they hadn’t even noticed. My high notes garnered applause, and my fellow performers really helped build my confidence by cheering me on. 

Finally, I debuted a song that I have never performed. I’d used bits of the other two songs for auditions and showcases in classes. My final song was “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” from “The Book of Mormon.” I’d only known this song for a month prior to the performance, whereas I’d known the others for years. But a number of spectators told me afterward that “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” was their favorite of my performances! After I performed my three show tunes, I was glowing with confidence. Even after the event, people sent me messages via Instagram complimenting my voice. I discovered that many of the students in the audience had posted me on their Instagram stories while I sang. I could not believe all of the support I received!

All along, I had no reason to be so insecure. What it took to gain the confidence I needed was just to step outside of my comfort zone. Doing this helped me realize that I undermine my talent far too much, and that Beloit College is a supportive space for budding performers to debut their talents. I am so excited for the next opportunity to sing for the student body! If you are considering exercising your performance skills in front of a crowd, I strongly encourage you to do so here at Beloit! You’d be surprised how much love you will receive just from pushing yourself out of your element.

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