Song: Take Me to Church, by Hozier

The voice is a powerful thing, and can be its own instrument that relays almost every message you can think of, in some way or another. It can be very telling of one’s physical and mental state, even if you try to hide it. Over the course of my own life, with the addition of this class, I have discovered many disconnects that I have with my voice. I feel as if it doesn’t always align with what I want to portray or reveal about myself, yet it always finds a way to speak the truth.

To elaborate on this, I believe singing is a very revealing form of communication. Over the course of developing this project, I have gone through periods of nervousness, such as when we had to share our songs with people in class, to even experiencing physical illness that comes in the colder seasons, and all of that can be heard through my voice. When I am nervous, I try to channel all my energy into making sure I do not make a mistake. I remember having to sing with our small group in class, and I had not yet finalized my song choice and was not confident in the song I currently had in mind. I also had not had much time to practice it, so when I sang it, it was completely off. I started in a higher key than I intended, but I could not let myself stop and start over. I recall my voice starting to tremble, and I slowly began to quiet down as I realized it was not sounding right. Still, I did not want to stop, because I did not want to appear as if I lacked control of my own voice.

In the later weeks of this project, I have been experiencing a lot of physical burdens that have been delaying my ability to record my video. I had gotten sick, which lasted about three weeks, full of congestion, coughing, and lack of energy. My voice was weak and irritated, and I refrained from using it in general. This, along with other things, have been putting more strain on my body to recover and I have not felt good enough to sing. It may seem obvious by now, but having control over my voice is how I maintain my nerves and composure, so this is crucial for me. I have come to accept that my video is not going to be perfect by any means, but I hope and prefer it to be when I feel as healthy as I can.

For this class, CAT 124 “Singing Through Life,” I have chosen to perform the song Take Me to Church, by Hozier. The lyrics present a confession of intense love that is analogous to a religion, and with deeper contemplation, it presents a criticism and dissatisfaction with Catholicism. What really resonates with me from this song is his ability to capture these two dimensions. It’s clearly about love, when observed more closely, you can discover the elements of doubt and irony. He uses his adoration for whomever the song is written for to point out that the church is not really aligned with true acts of love, a statement regarding sexuality and sexual orientations. To me, this is a perfect representation of music being an art form. Art pieces tend to present themselves in a certain way in their first impression, but you find nuances of the artist’s intentions and thoughts as you explore it multiple times or from different perspectives. This song is very rich and raw sounding, and I chose to sing it because it brings me to the limits of my vulnerability; I feel connected with this song enough to show my voice through it..

Hearing the voices of other young women, I sometimes feel as if mine is not feminine enough, especially when I sing, because I cannot reach typical high notes with ease. It feels like my voice is trying to project very loudly and hits a ceiling; there is nowhere for it to go but back down. It goes flat, because it cannot move up to the next note. I feel helpless even trying to do it,  because it feels like a wall that cannot be broken down and that is simply the limit of my voice. The more I recorded my own voice, I became increasingly self-aware of all of its inflections and common mistakes that I make. It easily became another addition to a list of things about myself that I wasn’t completely comfortable with. I sometimes feel ashamed, because I do not want to portray my voice to be struggling or strained, but that it is natural, and comes with ease. I am also conflicted with being loud, because this goes against my instincts, and if I make a mistake it will easily be identified. I began to wonder if this also has to do with my concept of femininity in music. I imagine feminine voices as being high-pitched or soft, causing me to feel incompetent with my own voice. The idea of being feminine in many cultures typically consists of being timid, therefore antagonizing loudness. However, being loud is typically acceptable to women with powerful voices capable of reaching impressive high notes, and I do not fit in this exception.

I often waver back and forth between feeling comfortable and displeased with the sound of my singing voice.  I often feel disconnected from it, as if it is its own separate entity that I keep contained in the presence of others. When I am alone, I let my voice run free and am open to all the mistakes and cracks that may occur, because no one else will know. However, in public, I become controlling due to the fear that my voice won’t do what I want it to. I hold it hostage, and my throat tenses up, like holding the reins on a horse, or a leash on a dog. I keep trying to hold back, because I don’t trust what will happen. Slowly, I release my hold and try to get comfortable. Although, no matter what I do, there is always this feeling of apprehension when I know others are listening.  

Throughout this project, I have realized that self-acceptance applies to all parts of myself, including my voice. If I continue to restrain it due to fear, I may never get to explore its true potential and power to express things with others. By choosing this song, I am allowing myself to face my fear of mistakes, and accepting that not all things can be perfectly in my control. I originally was very hesitant to go forward with this song choice, but I was brought back to it because of how much I enjoy singing it, which is what I should have done in the first place. In the end, I have come to acknowledge that being open and comfortable in our own voice may help us to be more vulnerable with others, because it is a step towards building intimacy and self-acceptance.