Singing has been a part of my life, practically from birth. My father had grown up in a family of 13, who sang for the sheer joy of singing. Hearing their four-part harmony and seeing their joy at family gatherings was both exhilarating and contagious!
At the age of five, my mother enrolled me in my first “Music & Expression” class with 10 other girls in Loraine, Texas. Ms. Martin taught us to have fun with and appreciate music as a way to express ourselves. Of course, it’s pretty easy for 5 year olds to ‘express’ themselves . . . so mostly we just had fun singing and jumping around!
My best girlfriend, Sue, and I took private voice and theory lessons from a private voice teacher in Hale Center, Texas. We sang together throughout our school years at every event we could find, including: music recitals, church events, dinners, graduations, fashion shows, talent shows, holiday events, our annual Music & Comedy Show, Lion’s Club events, school banquets, etc. We always sat by the best singers in church so we could learn to sing like they did.
My family couldn’t afford and didn’t have room for a piano; and since my mom and I loved Lawrence Welk and accordion-playing, Myron Floren, I opted for an accordion. Mother drove me an hour each week to take private accordion lessons from a wonderful blind teacher in Plainview, Texas.
I guess I really found my ‘nitch’ when I signed up for the High School Girl’s Choir as a high school freshman. I sang first soprano and was also in the Girl’s Sextet all four years, and was honored to serve as Choir President my senior year. Our Choir director was handsome, charming and inspiring; and we performed our little hearts out for him.
Church-sponsored singing schools were very BIG in West Texas in those days. I attended for two weeks each summer through my Jr. High and High School years. The last two I attended were on the Lubbock Christian College (now University) campus, where I was ‘counseled’ by Don Stence, a student/counselor whom I eventually married in 1963. So, I guess you could say that ‘singing’ united us.
Some of my most treasured memories are of performing with an 80-member Acappella Chorus when I later attended Lubbock Christian College. We made several week-long tours through Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado and performed regularly locally. I was in the Girl’s Sextet and took private voice and piano lessons from gifted teachers while there. I also starred and captured the “Best Actress Award” in the lead singing roll of “Julie” in the musical stage production of CAROUSEL and performed in supporting actress rolls in NEW MOON and HMS PINAFORE.
I’m quite sure I would be shocked to know how many funerals and weddings I’ve sung for in my lifetime. At one time I bought an autoharp to accompany myself singing. I also loved teaching songs for several years to 100-plus bus ministry kiddos at an Austin church we attended. My husband and I raised our two sons to sing and appreciate music, also.
Don, and I both performed with “The Sweet Expressions”, an eight-member, four-part harmony, acappella group comprised of members of various Austin churches. We traveled and performed primarily for church events on weekends in South and Central Texas. My solo experience with the group prepared me for my solo debut. In 1986, as a Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics, I had the responsibility of getting someone to perform for one of our banquets. When no one volunteered, I decided to perform. I bought a microphone and plugged it into our living room stereo system and began to practice a couple of favorite pop tunes. Well, after performing, I was hooked!
So, at the age of 45, after putting together a repertoire of favorite songs, transposing the music into my key, writing lead sheets for my band members, buying sound equipment, and booking my own gigs . . . I had finally gathered the courage to perform on my own . . . a dream come true! I began singing professionally under the name of “Kaye” in the Austin, San Marcos, Dallas and Lubbock areas; singing my favorite music from the Big Band Era and American Jazz Standards. Don has always been my ‘roady’ and my biggest fan . . . for which I’m so grateful! My biggest regret is that I wasn’t braver, sooner!
I still perform vocally today; often with pre-recorded music, depending on the venue. I am also a Certified Health Coach and have helped people world-wide heal naturally from a miriad of digestive diseases since 2000. I believe that singing, in addition to following a healthy whole foods natural diet, and my Mary Kay skin care (which I have taught and sold since 1970) have kept me younger than my actual years . . . and definitely have brought much joy and fullfillment into my life! Oh, and did I tell you about my two terrific sons and daughter-in-laws and my five adorable grandchildren and two chihuahuas . . . . ?!?!
My current repertoire is made up of Jazz Standards, Big Band Favorites, Broadway Showtunes, Pop, Southern Gospel, and Country songs. I particularly enjoy entertaining at dinner clubs, private parties, church gatherings, and retirement homes.
"It matters not whether your voice be phenomenal or even beautiful. If it expresses the music and the words you will have an interested audience."
- from Maxims of Giovanni Battista Lamperti