Sunday, January 11, 2015

Introducing Jamie Logan, Tenor

You Are My Song

    The nineteen-fifties. Elvis is wearing “Blue Suede Shoes.” Country music reigns supreme at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville.
     But in a small Tennessee town Jamie Logan ─ a good-hearted young man with a superb tenor voice ─ stars in his high school’s musical theater production and begins an unlikely, almost magical journey that could take him to the pinnacle of the opera world.
   The path is far from simple. Jamie just wants to sing. He is ill-prepared for the jealousy, rivalry and politics he encounters on his way. Family crises also sidetrack him and threaten to undermine his journey.
    But Jamie has a voice beautiful beyond belief ─ and the love of a woman who inspires him to believe in himself. His desire to sing becomes his reason for being. Will that be enough?

     My third novel, the story of a young tenor who aspires to sing opera, will be released by the end of January. I introduced Jamie Logan in How I Grew Up; he played opposite Melanie Stewart in their high school production of Carousel. I like my character Jamie. He has a naturally beautiful voice. He has innate musicianship and an ability to learn quickly, and no ego. He’s friendly, generous, outgoing, considerate. Oh, and unusually good-looking. He and Melanie have a strong connection, and they both wonder if they could be in love. But no, Jamie has a jealous girlfriend he later marries, and she doesn’t want him to sing.
     When You Are My Song begins, it’s four years after Jamie’s graduation from high school, and his marriage has failed. I had to laugh at my readers’ reaction to that; two of them commented they weren’t surprised to learn of Jamie’s and Sarah’s divorce. I wasn’t either. I wanted to see what would happen if I allowed Jamie to reconnect with his love of singing.
     Jamie’s lack of ego is unusual in a tenor. It’s a challenge to be a tenor in the world of opera; everyone wants to hear the tenor’s high notes, and if he doesn’t deliver, there are inevitably negative reactions. There’s a reason many of us love the tenor voice. There’s an intensity to the tenor sound. The response to that sound and those high notes is visceral. It’s a thrill to hear a tenor sing high notes with power and beauty.
     My theory is the tenor ego may be a way to counter the combination of insecurity and fear. Today I can sing a high C; can I sing it tomorrow? That’s the standard in “opera world.” That’s why we find videos on YouTube titled “Guess the Tenor by the High C!” and “Tenor Sing-Off – Faust High C – 15 Tenors.” Even more, we love to hear a tenor who can not only sing that C, but hold it forever and play with the dynamics. All of these things are probably contrary to the laws of physics, or medical science, or something. But the poor tenor is stuck with it.
     Of course, there is so much more to what makes a good tenor: evenness of scale, sensitivity to the music, the ability to shape a beautiful phrase, use of dynamics, command of many languages, connecting to his fellow artists and to the audience among them.
     Jamie has all of that, and more. Here’s his introduction to the reader in my first book, How I Grew Up, remembering the narrator is Melanie Stewart:

“Alice [Melanie’s sister] was right; Jamie was a very handsome boy. He had very dark hair, but fair skin and startlingly blue eyes. But it was more than that which made him so appealing; Jamie was someone everybody liked. He was friendly and kind, and always had a ready smile. Jamie had a truly beautiful tenor voice and he loved to sing, but he wasn’t conceited about it. When people complimented him on his singing, he always seemed a little surprised. He was just doing something he loved to do, and if people liked hearing him, well, that was great.”

     That was Jamie at eighteen. My new book begins when he is twenty-two and follows him through the next seven years of his life, and Jamie goes through a lot in those seven years. While you’re waiting for You Are My Song (and I certainly hope you are planning to read it!), if you haven’t read How I Grew Up or Eli’s Heart, you can order them in paperback or e-book format on Amazon, or people in the Poconos can purchase them at a slightly discounted price at the Pocono Community Theater. I’ve loved writing these books. I hope you enjoy reading them.



 Cover concept and realization by Tristan Flanagan