I sang Wang Lee Hom’s A Simple Song in front of a 140-people audience last Saturday which was well received. The event was DIB Coffees of Hawaii’s first anniversary, so I dressed up in flowery patterns with fresh flowers adorning my head.
DIB’s founder Allen Teh gave the audience a brief and kind introduction of me before another led me to the front where I was to sing. When I was motioned to start singing, I was not exactly ready because, I was only half way through my dinner and for some reason, I had extra difficulty swallowing suddenly. How was I going to sing like that?
I remembered how I could hardly sing one verse of this song without going out of breath while rehearsing at home. My lungs were still weak from the recent bout of aspiration pneumonia.
But then Allen called for me, so I went ahead. Hoping for the best.
Once I began to sing, a miracle happened. Suddenly, I had enough air to help me finish a verse comfortably. I did not have to gasp or inhale oxygen awkwardly between verses. I knew to vary my tone in order to convey emotions without deliberation, my throat had not been more relaxed in a long time.
Since I can’t hear myself, I still don’t know if I went out of pitch. But I know one thing for sure – the audience was moved. Much more than I had anticipated.
This wasn’t the first time I sang at DIB Coffees of Hawaii, and not the first time I performed Lee Hom’s songs there. But previous responses weren’t as great as this.
It makes me wonder why.
By the way, A Simple Song is part of an album Lee Hom composed himself, called Shangri-la in English. In the Chinese language, the word Shangri-la means ‘the sun and moon in my heart’. It was released in the year of 2005 and the last album of his that I heard with my physical ear.
I did not realize there was any relevance in the album’s name to myself back then, as I was struggling to cope with a rapidly diminishing hearing that year. But as I think about it now, I am surprised to find that Shangri-la in Chinese resounds with my own name. Ming Niang. 明娘. It can be construed to mean ‘lady of the sun and moon’. In her heart.
The day after performing A Simple Song at DIB, I found time to sit down and complete Dr. Caroline Leaf’s gift profile, which profiles the way we think and how our brains operate. I discovered that my dominant pillars of thought are Intrapersonal followed by musical.
Looking at the video of myself singing, it all makes sense to me. I can sing in public as if I can still hear, because I enjoy music in my mind – intrapersonal. I can still convey emotions of songs without hearing, because I have developed the part of my brain – the musical pillar of thought – that perceives abstract things by heart.
No wonder I always feel that music has never left me.
P/S: The kind lady who recorded this video held my camera the wrong way. Elliot later helped to rotate the video back so that you can watch me without tilting your head. Elliot is a media developer by day who accepts freelance assignments by night.