Friday, October 16, 2015

Who Is Jamie Logan?

You Are My Song

Jamie Logan, my book blurb reads, is from a small town in Tennessee, and is “a good-hearted young man with a superb tenor voice.” He gets off on the wrong track when he marries his high school sweetheart two years after they graduate; and two years later it’s apparent Sarah never wanted to be a wife. The year at this point in 1958, so here is Jamie, with an associate’s degree in business administration, running a car dealership because he thought that’s what his girl wanted.

Pretty depressing, to be twenty-two and feel that you’re a failure. Jamie has always wanted to be a father. His own family means the world to him: his father Jim, a good husband, father, and provider; his somewhat mystical mother Laurie, third generation Irish; his six-years-older sister Carol, her husband Larry Sweeny, her children, Jamie’s niece and nephew Anna and Steven, whom he doesn’t see nearly enough of since Carol’s family lives in Florida.

So where does he go from here? Devoted son, brother, uncle … and possessor of that splendid voice, which he used to its fullest in high school but hasn’t really used in four years. Jamie knows one thing: he can sing. He starts studying voice with his former high school choral director, now teaching in a private studio in Jamie’s home town.

When he hears a recording of the great tenor Giuseppe di Stefano singing an aria from Puccini’s opera Tosca, Jamie has a life-defining moment. This is what he wants to do – no, this is what he has to do. After a few months of study he auditions for the nearby state university’s opera program and is accepted. And that is his first step into a world that can be exciting, fulfilling, nerve-wracking, stressful, daunting, challenging in ways Jamie never anticipated.

His college teacher tells him he has more than an exceptional voice. He has what’s called “the whole package”: he’s a gifted musician and actor, learns quickly, is adept with languages. Oh, and he’s also an unusually good-looking young guy, a definite plus for a tenor, who usually plays the love interest in an opera.

His voice teacher also cautions him that it’s a tough business. While it can be rewarding almost beyond belief, it can also destroy people. It’s not for the faint of heart. Jamie’s not so sure he’s up for the challenge. He sees himself as a pretty simple guy who tries to get along with people, who sings because he loves to sing. Part of Jamie’s charm is his naïveté.

He battles with his self-doubts. Sarah divorcing him has almost destroyed his self-confidence. In Tennessee at the time, “no fault” divorce did not exist: there had to be a specific reason for the divorce. The only one that will work for them is for Jamie to declare he was impotent during the marriage. He agrees, to please Sarah one final time, but it’s a high price for him to pay.

He also has a rival who does his best to undermine Jamie and get him dismissed from the opera program. But two things happen: Jamie falls in love again, this time with a woman who will do whatever she can to help him succeed. And he sings in his first opera and it’s an experience like nothing he’s ever had. Despite everything that’s happened to this point, he wants to pursue the art he’s become passionate about. He has to do this. It’s why he’s alive.

And the rest of the story is in You Are My Song. There are obstacles in his path. There are also successes. There’s sorrow, but there’s also happiness. There are surprises.

But it’s all about this good-hearted boy from Tennessee who has this gift … he can sing.

You Are My Song on Amazon