The Diva and “The Natural”

Our Own Sweet Song
Once there was a little bird who was afraid to sing. That was unheard of in her neck of the woods because it is a given that birds sing. This could be the first neurotic bird.

But instead of analysis, which cost more than her family could afford, they sent her to live with a famous opera singer, who just happened to live in the nabe.

They put her in a cage when the diva went on stage. They were all the rage. But the little bird soon became a diva, too. What to do?

Now you may think this is definitely the first example of a Jenny Lind/Jennifer Lopez combo, and you are probably right. But two divas on the same stage proved devastating. One of them had to go.

So the impresario arranged a sing-off at Radio City Music Hall. The judges were instructed to listen to each singer and then give feedback.

First the diva took the stage, without the little bird this time. The judges were in awe of her poise and ability to shatter a champagne glass using only her voice.

But when the tiny little bird flew out and took her place on an improvised sparkly roost, everyone was on the edge of their seat. People leaned forward in order to hear better.

First there was silence as the little bird looked out in fear and trembling before the vast ocean of the audience. She had never been on stage alone before. There had not been a dress rehearsal. While the diva had been dressed in sequins and satin, the little bird had only her feathers.

If you could have seen her up close, you would have seen her body trembling, as if she had been captured by aliens from another planet. And in truth, she had been. Her home was the forest and not the stage.

But now she had her chance at fame and fortune. And she knew she didn’t want that. So she sang but not well. She pretended to hit some false notes. She diddled around with her roost and pretended like she was fascinated with the glitter. She wasn’t. Not at all. And then she watched the audience fall in love with her. Not because she was the best. The diva clearly gave the best performance. But because she knew the score.

Everyone in the room that night knew she could not be bought or sold. Could not be hired by a corporate management or seduced into a higher salary. Her voice was what it was. She was a natural. And as she took her humble bow, she knew that she would never again be afraid to sing. She would only be afraid of losing her original voice.

The audience gave the bird a standing ovation, which meant nothing to the little bird. When they returned her to the cage, she became silent in protest against what she had been asked to do.

The bird’s silence was the richest deepest note that could ever have been sung by the diva. It is said that the diva went on to even greater prominence and the little bird never sung on stage again. She sang only when it was natural and never for an audience. Oh, she got some nice fat worms, but so did all the other birds. And that is exactly how it should be.

Vicki Woodyard

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