This is dedicated to the women who sing.
This has been a long time coming. I’ve composed and re-composed this piece for years as I would sit, in silence; or, when doing mundane things.
Music has been in my life for as long as I can remember. First, there were lullabys, sung by my mother, Helen Smith Dunn. As I grew, when she sang in church and I was rib-high, her rich contralto vibrated against my ear.
Eventually, I learned to play the violin. After days and years of practice, I became the second violin in the Rhode Island State Youth Orchestra. In addition, I joined the chorus in junior and senior high school. I have my mother’s deep, rich contralto voice. I’m forever grateful for that.
There are many women who sing and I know and love their songs. You may know them, too. These women who sing have voices that rise up, challenge, comfort, give solace, as only the human voice can do. Gracias a la vida.
Then, there are the women who sing because of how they live, how they give of themselves over and over again. They are the neighborhood community leaders, the mothers (even if they have no children of their own), the Aunties, the elders (Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers). They are our friends. These are the women who laugh together, dance together, love together, share together, support each other. I have had and continue to have such profoundly beautiful and strong women in my life. I’m forever grateful for that.
There are the women about whom history refers to as “Anon.” (Anonymous). Often, these women are cited in writings that have come to us through hundreds of years of human history. Their names are forgotten or have been erased. But, what they’re attributed to contributing to our shared human history survives. I’m forever grateful for that.
I’ve, often, dropped to my knees as I came to learn and understand how women have survived – actually survived and endured – for eons. Women have been raped, killed, beaten, mutilated, emotionally abused, spiritually tortured, denigrated (publicly and privately), referred to as sluts, whores, pussies, dykes, mother fuckers and more. What we do to each other out of fear and hate and bullying.
Finally, to all the women who believe you have no voice – you do. Your empowerment is the fact that you are a woman. Through you, through me comes the next generation. What’s more powerful than that?
To all the girls who are becoming women, do not be afraid. Explore. Challenge. Think. Create. Don’t take “No, you can’t.” as a satisfactory response to anything. Listen to your heart. Find and follow your path. I’ll tell you, right now, it won’t be easy. Life isn’t, always, easy. But, you have one life to live – live it.
*Dedicated in Gratitude, Love and Memory to my mother, Helen Smith Dunn (1912-1980); and to my sisters – Barbara Dunn Blossom, Tacy Dunn San Antonio and Genevieve Dunn (1955-2013).