My eight-year-old niece Ciara has always been an actress. She has always wanted to perform and has always been the shining star in a crowd.
She recently began taking voice lessons and is showing a huge interest in music. This week she sent me a video performing a song that she wrote (I won't post it because she might want to release it on an album someday) and I couldn't help but smile ear to ear.
She reminds me of me when I was a girl. I loved singing and playing piano. I wrote songs and my family encouraged my talent, always listening, always complimenting my attempts.
When the Oklahoma City bombings happened in 1995 my adolescent mind couldn't wrap my head around such a horrific terrorist attack, and after watching plenty of coverage of the wounded and the dead I wrote a song. I was really into Hanson back then and the chords are pretty much the same as some of their songs, but I felt proud nonetheless and I had big dreams of sending it along to the victims, that maybe the thought that I had them in my young heart would help ease their pain a little.
My grandmother saved the lyrics and somehow I still have this paper half a lifetime later, stowed away in my piano bench.
Embarrassingly, I recorded it this morning in my pajamas so that you can hear what it sounds like.
I didn't go on to write many songs, but I did go on to take eleven years of piano lessons, learn guitar, sing in countless professional choirs, and tour the world performing with some of them.
I can only hope that my niece sticks with it and continues to keep her heart in music. And as for this proud, proud Auntie, I will be there with her every step of her journey, listening to and encouraging her. Perhaps proud is an understatement. I'm pretty much beaming for her.