Tuesday, April 05, 2005

On Assignment: Somerset, Kentucky-Day One

"Sun and Stones" by Wes Aldridge

One of my greatest fears is to sing solo in front of people, even if it is at a small birthday gathering with PlayStation 2 American Idol karaoke. I respect someone who has the ability and desire to stand with their naked voice and sing. Enter Amanda. Today she sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” at a University of Georgia baseball game in front of hundreds of people… a cappella. I wanted to be there to hear her, because if you have never had the opportunity, her voice is intoxicatingly beautiful. It was in high school, and still is weeks before her college graduation.

Earlier in the day I told her to get her best friend to call me and hold her cell phone where I could hear her. I didn’t know if that would actually happen or not, but as I lay on the ground amongst white tombstones in a veterans’ cemetery at sunset, my phone rings. The voice on the other end said, “I think she is going to sing in a couple of minutes, hold on.” I couldn’t believe it. I looked up at the American flag blowing in the sunset and then I heard the sound.

She began the song (on perfect pitch) and something moved inside me. I expected her to sound good, but I wasn’t prepared for the brilliance in her voice, even over a cell phone speaker. I listened to her sweet soprano voice soar higher and higher with “the rockets red glare” and chills blasted across me. She sang on and my jaw hung wide open.

When she brought her voice back down to end the anthem it was in a wonderful whisper with “the home of the brave.” Right then, staring at the flag above me, lying in the grass in the cemetery as the sun faded away, something moved in me. A single tear rolled down my left cheek and I was sonically completed. I let the sun fade away and I just lay there and stared at the sky. I couldn’t move, and it was great. Everything was in its right place and I didn’t actually shoot the deep reds and purples in the sky after the sunset, it seemed better to just lie there and watch it sink away. Today I may have been on assignment in Somerset, Kentucky, but my ears and heart were in Athens, Georgia.

This shot is the scene I saw seconds before I got that phone call. And by the way, Nashville is waiting on that voice girl, bring it on up here and start the long, hard road.