“Living here, in this brand new world
Might be a fantasy
But it taught me to love
So it’s real, real to me.”
~Melinda Doolittle, “Home”
What do you do when you find out that one of your very favorite singers – and people – is making her debut at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall? Well, if you’re me, you instantly know that you have to be there. No doubt about it, no questions asked, no other possibility. When Melinda walked across the stage at Carnegie on Monday night, I was right there in the second row to support her (and later, in the first – thank you to the people who switched seats and gave us the opportunity to move front and center!). I had been looking forward to the concert for months — after all, what’s better than seeing someone who has so inspired you get to achieve her dreams? Not much.
From the minute I saw the poster outside advertising the concert, I knew it was going to be a special night. And when Melinda started to sing her first song? That magnified tenfold. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each and every performance of hers that I’ve been to, but there was something different about this one. Seeing the joy she got from that evening, watching her live out what has to be an aspiration for so many singers, I was just so truly, truly elated for her. She has an undeniable talent and an even bigger heart, and to say I’m proud of her for accomplishing such an honor would be an understatement. So, so proud of her, and beyond thankful and grateful to be there and share such a meaningful night. Idol finalist, recording artist, charitable activist, author … Melinda’s worn so many hats over the past three years, and it’s been a joy to go along on the journey. I’d say that performing at Carnegie is like a pinnacle of everything, but with her, I know there are so many more special things to come. But singing at the renowned concert hall? Talk about memories that will last a lifetime.
She performed a selection of songs, including “Home” (which she sang on Idol) and “I’ll Never Stop Loving You,” which is from her debut album. I was particularly excited about the first one, since that’s one of my favorites of hers and I had never seen it live before. She was, of course, phenomenal. Her vocal prowess never fails to give me chills. Beyond the songs, though, it was just really, really wonderful to see her soaking in every moment of the experience and to know how much it meant to her — made me misty-eyed a few times. Getting to know her over the past few years, having her as such a source of inspiration and encouragement, it’s been something very special for me. She’s one of the most unconditionally supportive people you’ll ever meet, someone who unequivocally deserves every success and then some. Her concert at Carnegie? I know it’s only the beginning of many honors to come. And can I take a minute to talk about the building itself? WOW, is it beautiful! Words don’t do justice to its intricate architecture, exquisite design, or amazing acoustics. Being there to see anyone perform would have been a terrific experience. Being there to see Melinda? An experience I’ll never forget and always treasure.
Going to Good Morning America the next morning was an added bonus — so much fun to see the live taping! Rod Stewart was performing, so we watched the soundcheck and all the preparations before he went on air. Other highlights included Sam Champion doing one of his weather reports from outside where we were standing, Robin Roberts meeting everyone inside (big, huge sigh to not being in the studio for that, but it was still cool to be that close), and people-watching in the crowd. We had the cutest little boy near us at one point, and he looked so excited to make it on air. I’ve always wanted to see GMA in person (I will forever be an ABC gal!), so it was the perfect addition to our time in NYC. Oh, and amazing cupcakes from Crumbs. They were a pretty fabulous addition, too.
Melinda sings about life and love in “Home.” I’ve always been drawn to the song, but hearing her perform it in person gave it an added dimension. That brand new world? It reminds me of my current manuscript. Technically, that world is a fantasy. But it gave me a love unlike anything I’ve ever worked on before, and in the process, it became very real to me. The characters are like my friends, their journeys like my own. For me, writing is like going home. It’s where I belong. Finishing the first draft of the book last week was beyond emotional. And hearing Melinda sing about this just a few days later? Fitting, special, inspirational. Melinda said to me last year that I’m a writer, that it’s who I am. And she was right. So I’m going to continue dreaming big … after all, as watching her perform at Carnegie reminded me, dreams really can and do come true.