The Guest: CJ Poindexter - Getting my Chops Back after 20 Years!
Jingle Jangle Jungle’s Guest Blogger Series
Today's Guest is: CJ Poindexter
My name is CJ Poindexter and I am a Work-at-home singing writer mom. I have three great kids, two messy dogs and one of those genius creative types for a husband. After a 20+ year absence I have returned to my first love of writing and performing music. It's has already been quite a journey and I'm just getting started! All that I do whether writing, singing or speaking, it all comes from a strong desire to see people be themselves 100%.
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I did it! For the first time in over 20 years I performed my music, my way. In public. It was at a benefit concert for my friend’s documentary film “Backburner: A woman’s Passion Project.” Since I was also one of the featured women in the documentary I was the last performer at the concert. I was so nervous I took off my strappy heels to keep my anxiety (and too long of a hippie dress) from tripping me up.
I took the stage terrified and said so. The audience laughed but I could feel their support. I started off shaky. Very shaky. My guitar playing was so bad that I very slowly inched it away from the mic and started playing super soft. As I moved through the songs, my confidence grew and my body - my being - my inner self remembered. By time I hit the last note of the last song, I was home again. It was as if I never left. My performance was imperfect, but the experience went perfectly. People loved it!
For years I would play and sing for anyone who would listen. After my father died I just stopped. I lost contact with my musician friends and collaborators. I sold and gave away my instruments. Most of the songs I wrote were lost to me. I only sang in church, and although I had my moments, I was never more than mediocre.
Then one night, a little over a year ago, I was in my bed watching Beyonce’s HBO special. As I watched the special, I felt a familiar twinge in my chest. And as the special went on the twinge became a gnawing that I couldn’t ignore.
I have felt the gnawing before. I felt it when I saw India Arie on TV for the first time. I felt it when my husband and I went to a John Legend concert. I felt it whenever I heard early Beatles songs on the radio. I used to think it was just sentimentality over my lost glory days.
But that night, lying in my bed watching the HBO special, the gnawing wouldn’t go away. It grew until it filled my chest and interrupted my breathing. I started to cry.
It was grief.
That thing that sat on my heart and gnawed at my insides was grief. I was surprised I didn’t recognize it before, because I am very familiar with grief. I lost my father when I was a teenager and almost 9 years ago, I lost one of my identical twin daughters at birth. I know grief too well.
It it hard. What I had been doing by ignoring such a big part of who I was. I have struggled with depression my whole life, and I couldn't help wonder how much of it I helped along by cutting off the one thing in my life I was confident about. It wasn’t because I was so good. It was because I loved it so much.
I decided then that I was not going to leave this earth with whatever musical potential I possessed unfulfilled. I wasn’t going to die with a bunch of ‘what ifs’ and ‘I could haves’. I started work almost immediately. First with vocal work-out CDs. Next I hired a vocal coach. I started practicing my guitar and writing music again. I worked hard. When the opportunity to perform showed itself I knew I had to accept. Even though I was scared. Even though under normal circumstances I would have turned it down. When the day came I was ready.
I took my terrified barefoot self onto that stage and did the absolute best I could. It was great! People loved it and so did I. Now my husband and I are forming our own band, I’m writing more and feeling more and more comfortable singing and writing. My goal is simple, just to the best that I absolutely can be.
I’m happy about getting my chops back. Still scared. But happy.
Thank you, CJ, for being today’s Guest!
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