Adventures with Dr. Lady Cutie Troublemaker

Life is in flux BIG TIME these days. I want to keep in touch with all of my peeps. The Internet is this beautiful thing. I can move to a brand new city and still stay in easy, near-daily contact with the people I love. When I feel connected to the people in my life that matter, I am unstoppable!

Fables is 25

By Abby at 9:15 pm on Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When R.E.M. first came out, there was some discussion about whether we were supposed to call them R.E.M. or /rem/ like it was just a word. I already knew the phrase “rapid eye movement” at that point in my life. An article I read early on said that their M stood for murmur though. So “rapid eye murmur,” so I thought it all made sense when their album “Murmur” came out, although for years since, noone has bothered to talk about the letters anymore. They got too famous for it to matter.

I grew up in Atlanta. I was around 12 when I first heard of R.E.M. because my friend Molly’s older sister was a college student at UGA in Athens. I remember Molly putting “Wolves, Lower” on the record player and thinking the whole world had changed. I was sitting on her top bunk at the time. It was the middle of the day – probably a weekend. Her room was cocoa brown. I remember thinking it was really radical when she picked that color out. What little girl picks out cocoa?! Molly and I had a falling out after an unfortunate incident which I’m sure my mother and Molly would prefer I not rehash. All water under the bridge, but sadly, it was not Molly who got to go see R.E.M. with me when they came to The Agora Ballroom (across from the Fabulous Fox in May 1983). The Agora has long since burned, but sentimental me still has the ticket stub:

R.E.M. at the Agora Ballroom, Atlanta, 1983

I went with my friend Heather. It was a great show. What I remember most was standing right up against the stage with my head up under the curtain before the gig started and waving down “the lead singer” and handing him a little note written on the back of a Psycho 3 ad that said I was really proud they were from Georgia because I thought they were so good. He was really shy then. He was a shy performer, too, and he spent a lot of time dancing with his back to the audience. I also remember this woman with really bleached out hair and her Asian boyfriend who was much shorter and wearing fatigues (for fashion) making out like THE WHOLE TIME and being kinda shocked by that. I was riveted by the show. It made such an impression on me.

OK, so flash forward a few years. In the interim, went and saw R.E.M. every time they came to town, and when they started getting too big for the Fabulous Fox, they resisted moving up to The Omni, and they’d play 5 nights at the Fox, and I’d save up and go every night. I was a superfan. I don’t have every stub, but here are a bunch: R.E.M. gig tickets

Fables of the Reconstruction of the Fables…

When it was first released, just as there was some confusion about how to say R.E.M., there was some intention vagueness about the name of the album. With time, it definitely became known more as Fables of the Reconstruction, but in the beginning, it was unclear. Just did a little research, and found this in the Wikipedia article:

On the vinyl release [which is all we had back then!], side one was labeled the “A side” and side two “Another side.” The “A side” label bore the title, Fables of the Reconstruction, while “Another side” bore the title, Reconstruction of the Fables.

Here’s what I remember. I don’t know if this will be of use to anyone besides me, but I can’t get it out of my head. Fables came out in the summer, when my high school boyfriend was off at the Governor’s Honors Program in Valdosta. I was beside myself with sadness that he’d found a girl of interest there (we’d been together about a year and a half at this point). I was taking this stupid summer class because I was trying to do both the college prep curriculum and the performing arts curriculum. It was history, and it was at this snooty private school, which wasn’t my scene. I was staging a minor hunger strike about the whole other girl thing and was mostly living on Breton crackers, lime Perrier, and little hunks of mozzarella cheese (I was 15. Don’t judge!). Wimbledon was on. I thought Boris Becker was cute. That summer was kind of a stinker, but the one thing I remember lifting me up was Fables.


I was 15 then. I’m 40 now. I imagined I’d grow up and change a lot, but I’m still just me. I imagined that 40 year-old Abby would be quite different from 15 year-old Abby. I feel like there’s this complete linearity that I’m not sure is the experience everyone has. I think it isn’t. Anyway, I think I like it. And I know I still like Fables. The album is 25 years old. It’s been remastered. I don’t think there was anything wrong with it, but OK, I’ll take it. There are some outtakes that sound good on the Amazon samples. How can I not get it? 15 year-old Abby would be pleased, I think.


Filed under: Music,Stories From My Life6 Comments »

Singing with Celine: Opening Ceremonies 1996

By Abby at 7:26 pm on Sunday, February 21, 2010

Because I was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus during the 1995-1996 season, I was lucky enough to be a performer in Opening Ceremonies of the Atlanta Summer Olympics. I found a video of Celine Deion singing “The Power of the Dream” on YouTube. There was a discussion about whether she was performing live or not. I knew a little bit about this, since I was there and knew just enough to be able to answer the questions the commenters were posing.

The whole experience was really cool. When you watch the video, you’ll see that I’m one of the people standing behind Ms. Deion (Hahaha!) in a choir robe on the ramp. It was quite the vantage point. At this time in the proceedings, Mohammed Ali had already lit the olympic torch, and the parade of nations was complete. It was an incredible place to be, and despite the cheesiness of the Babyface/Foster music (which we recorded in Symphony Hall about a month prior), watching this video this morning made me cry. Just because being in such a place at such a time amidst such an incredible confluence of energy was overwhelming. I love people. I love being where the action was. And on that day, in that place, that was the place to be. Watch it, and at around 2 minutes, listen and imagine how cool it all was for me.

Below the video, you’ll see my responses to the commenters queries about what was live and what was prerecorded.

OK, this is crazy, but I’m actually one of the performers in this. I sang in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus during this time. I am one of the people in a choir robe on the ramp behind Celine Deion. We prerecorded everything so that no matter what technical things went wrong, there would be something to play on air.

What I recall is that those recordings of us (the chorus) were blended with the mics that were on us in the actual stadium. For the soloists, however (Celine Deion, Jesse Norman, etc), the recordings were only in reserve for use in case the mics were failing to feed into either the stadium or to the live feed.

It all went as planned, and so I believe what you are hearing is, in fact, live Celine. What you are hearing from the orchestra and chorus is all recorded, but inside the stadium, it was both the pre-recorded stuff and the live performance.

Filed under: Music,Stories From My Life,Video2 Comments »

I Did Some Singing

By Abby at 2:22 pm on Monday, November 30, 2009

This is my second year doing solos with the North Carolina Master Chorale for Carolina Ballet’s Messiah production. This year, Jake used my iPhone and a capsule mic I bought recently to record me singing. Here ya go!

Rejoice Greatly

I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?

Filed under: Music1 Comment »

Easter Performance with the NCMC Chamber Choir

By Abby at 1:26 pm on Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lots to do today, but I thought I might pop in to share a really great experience I’ve been having the last few weeks. I sing in the North Carolina Master Chorale. There is a chamber choir, too, but there are no auditions. It’s an invite-only situation. Recently, one of the sopranos in that group had to have surgery, so our director, Al, invited me to join them in their performances of two pieces for Easter. Here’s a description of them:

The NCMC Chamber Choir, joined by instrumental chamber ensemble, presents a pairing of two stirring works by living composers: locally-based composer J. Mark Scearce and Scottish composer James MacMillan. Scearce’s spiritual cantata for chorus, chamber orchestra and five soloists is an uplifting, life-affirming powerhouse with texts drawn from the Bible, Schopenhauer and Chief Seattle. MacMillan’s arresting and completely original setting of the Seven Last Words has been called inspired and stunning. A glorious and compelling program for Passiontide.

Now if you know me, you know I’m not a religious woman. To me, Easter is generally about making sure I get my hands on some Cadbury Mini Eggs (actually haven’t had any this year!). But I’ve always loved sacred choral music. People are inspired by their beliefs, and that inspires me. I’m more inspired by the sounds and the emotion and the raw beauty than by the details of the stories behind them – I’ve always been that way, for whatever reason. When it comes to words and language, I’ve always been very interested in how they sound more than what they mean. I’ve always felt like that was maybe a bad thing, but anyway, that’s how it has always been for me. If I’m truly inspired by the way something sounds, only THEN do I maybe start listening to the lyrics for their content. Anyway, I digress. When Al asked me to do this concert, he provided me with a recording, and after hearing it, I knew I was IN. No question. The MacMillan is a stunner of a piece, and I knew that I had to be a part of it.

We did these performances on Friday and Saturday nights. The real performance was Saturday, but we did the MacMillan only Friday night in the sanctuary of the church where we rehearse. It’s a lovely space, and our Friday performance was part of a service, rather than a concert.

There was a speaker (who I did not hear), then an organ prelude, then we sang the piece, which includes 7 movements, each corresponding to the seven words of Jesus on the cross. Before each movement, there was a reading related to each thing Jesus said. At the end of the piece, there is a long, drawn out section where we don’t sing, and the orchestra plays. It’s clearly the last breaths of Jesus dying. During this part, the lights in the sanctuary were dimmed, and when it ended, the lights went out completely. There was no applause, and the audience was encouraged to stay and pray or reflect and leave as they were ready.

Jake and Lalitree came for this Friday performance, and I’m so glad they did. They are story and words people. After the performance was over, and I met them out front, I learned so much more about what I had just performed. It really is a little embarrassing how I can overlook such a dramatic story, but (and I know this sounds odd) I knew the emotions. I knew they were desperate and solemn. And I was overcome by the beauty of the piece each time we rehearsed it.

The Saturday concert was really satisfying, too. We got a big standing O at the end of each piece, and I saw familiar faces in the audience: Lenore (a Twitter friend), Stan (from Flickr), and several other people who sing in the regular Master Chorale. I was happy to share that with them, and they seemed happy to be there. Mark Scearce was there for the performance of his piece, and he could not have been happier with how it went. It’s wonderful to see a composer responding to his “baby” like that.

I will admit that I have been guilty of some boredom in choir lately. I was spoiled singing in the Atlanta Symphony Chorus with Robert Shaw for all those years, because it doesn’t get much better than that. In the regular choir, people are slower to learn music, and I get impatient. It makes going something I sometimes avoid, because I know I will be restless and have trouble remaining focused. The challenge just isn’t always enough to keep me occupied. But this really shook things up for me. It was a treat performing with such good musicians and really bringing a piece ALL THE WAY to fruition. I really hope Al asks me to do more concerts with them.

Little Black Dress

We got a little stipend for our participation, and I’m happy to report that it was enough to cover the cost of my little black dress! I can’t TELL you how thrilled I was to hear that I would not have to wear my standard issue choir outfit. 😀

Filed under: Music,Raleigh and the Triangle,Stories From My Life3 Comments »

Singing and a Parental Visit

By Abby at 4:23 am on Friday, November 28, 2008

Me Singing Rejoice from The Messiah with the Carolina Ballet from abbyladybug on Vimeo.

I did some singing this week for the first time in forever. Man, it stressed me out. Not a perfect performance, but definitely acceptable. I feel pretty proud that I didn’t completely blow it! My parents are in town and came to see. Jake was there, as were his parents. Lalitree and John came. Shannon came and brought Brian’s mom. LOTS of my peeps made it out. Two more performances to go.

Hope you had a fine turkey day. We spent our day with my friends Roz and David and their family, as well as a visit with Jake and his family. A great day overall.

Waffle House Trip
The obligatory Waffle House trip. My favorite waitress took this one for us! Can you believe my parents went back the next day for more?!

Filed under: Music,Stories From My Life,Video10 Comments »
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