Sharing our Gifts with Others – Toronto Wedding Corporate Gala Singer

As a musician, it is always nice when you are able to secure a paid gig. Let’s be honest, for many musicians who solely rely on music as a means to make ends meat, it can be a difficult profession especially when there is a dearth of performances. So when an artist is paid to provide their skills, it is always a nice feeling knowing that your work is appreciated and valued. However, when I look back at some of my most memorable performances, the ones that are in the forefront of my mind are those unpaid performances when I volunteered my time.

There is a great saying that the pastor at my church repeatedly says during his sermons and it goes along the lines of  “What’s important is not what gifts God gives you but rather what you do with your gifts.”  This saying always struck a chord with me (no pun intended) and caused me to take a moment of pause and reflect. I do believe that I have been blessed with the ability to sing but the bigger question is what have I done to share this gift with others.

When I first started taking vocal lessons and built up a repertoire of music that I felt would allow me to showcase my talents, one of the first gigs I booked was to provide entertainment for a rosary ministry at Prince of Peace Roman Catholic Parish in Scarborough. It was memorable not only because it was the first time I had performed for a large audience outside of a church setting, but because of the response that I received from those in attendance.  They were genuinely appreciate of the music and very complementary towards my voice and song selection. As a soloist venturing out for the first time, I was definitely nervous and unsure as to what others would think of my performance, music selection and stage presence. I guess you could call this the testing grounds for what helped to shape me into the singer that I have become today.

Not wanting to wait too long in between gigs, I then decided to volunteer my services to different senior’s residence throughout Markham and the Greater Toronto Area. Again, my performances were met with a very positive response from people which further helped to build my self-esteem when it came to singing as a soloist.

After volunteering for quite some time and getting my name out there, I started receiving offers for paid gigs. However, volunteering my services was something that I continued to do as a way of saying “Thank You” and showing gratitude for the bookings I was receiving. One of my favorite places to volunteer has been Providence Villa Health Care in Scarborough where I sing approximately every 3 months. From the time I started singing there, those in attendance have always made me feel like a million dollars. I can honestly say that at this stage in my singing career, I would quicker choose to volunteer my services to a group who would give me their undivided attention and be appreciate of my singing over a paid gig where I am background music for an event where people could not care less if there was entertainment or not. I guess that deep down in every artist, there is that hope that those hearing you perform your talent will enjoy your skillset. As much as those at Providence Villa have said that they have enjoyed my music is the same way that I have enjoyed having them as an audience.

However, one of my most memorable experiences of volunteering came recently when my father-in-law asked me to provide dinner entertainment at an “Out of the Cold” program for homeless individuals in the Scarborough area. I was not really sure what to expect as I was told that two weeks prior, there was quite a vociferous exchange between two dinner guests that required staff intervention.  Despite my reservations I knew it was the right thing to do and hoped that the universal language and power of music would keep the guests entertained. When I began singing there was one dinner guest who stood up and came to the front of the room where I was performing and stood off to the side. He took out his phone and began taping my performance. After every song, he would be the first one to clap. Throughout the performance the guests would sing along to some of the songs or yell out a complement. I even decided to sing an Italian ballad, which was well received by the audience and staff. At the end of my performance, many of the dinner guests came up and thanked me for singing and were very complementary of my voice. The one individual who had been standing off to the side for my entire performance approached me to thank me for singing and to let me know how much he appreciated the music and my voice. We ended up having a wonderful conversation and I felt very blessed to know that I was able to use my talents to bond with him. I left the Out of the Cold program that night feeling rejuvenated and good inside knowing that I was able to add some joy to the day of some individuals who generally are living a very difficult life. This experience just reaffirmed for me the importance of sharing our talents with others. I think that Madeleine L’Engle phrased it so nicely when she said “We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.

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