Soooo Tuesday was fun.... Here's the text I sent to my BFF squad:

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Lemme break that down for ya. Monday night I got a call to participate in the Hand In Hand hurricane relief benefit show that was being televised live on Tuesday night. They needed one more background vocalist for a song featuring Brad Paisley, CeCe Winans, Darius Rucker and Demi Lovato. "I know it's last minute, and given the nature of the event it doesn't pay, and we need you there at 12:30 tomorrow...." Me: "I'm in."

I show up at call time, lugging makeup, hair spray, hot rollers, jewelry, snacks and a few versions of the Background Singer Black uniform. Drea (who I know and love) and Kim (who I was just meeting) and I work out parts on a couch in the lounge, which is kinda where we live for the day since there are 487 people involved in this benefit on top of all the folks who'll be performing on the Opry that night after the benefit dealie is done and we have no dressing room. Regular rehearsal starts at 1:30. We get repeatedly conflicting info on whether the "dress rehearsal" at 3 actually means "dressed/hair/makeup" or not, so I plug my curlers in in a lesser used bathroom down a side hallway just in case. 

We get onstage for first rehearsal, and all the lead vocalists were there, except for Demi Lovato, who couldn't be there until 6. We run the tune a few times. Then one of the TV guys who's directing traffic comes over to us: "would one of you come over and be Demi so we can check camera angles and mics and stuff?" Not sure if it was cuz I was on the end or just feeling sassy or both, but off I skipped toward the front of the stage. 

Drea had introduced me to CeCe earlier, but I hadn't met the other two fellas yet. Brad was busy figuring out some guitar amp and pedal stuff, so he just kinda nodded, but Darius said hey. Me: "Hi. I'm faux Demi." Him: "I'm faux Darius. What's your real name?" lolz. We run the tune, I sing Demi's lines, including the duo part with CeCe. (THAT is a delicious snack I could enjoy in my daily diet, thank you very much) We run the tune again, I stretch out a bit this time (see previous paragraph's sass). Drea told me later that was when CeCe did like this: (tee hee!)

It was about this time I look down and realize my sass may have something to do with where I'm standing..... IN THE CIRCLE. The significance of that, for those of you not in the country music history know, is this: in 1974 the Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium (where it had been since 1943) to the newly built Grand Ole Opry House. To 'ground' the new venue and carry on some tradition, they cut a 6-ft. circle of floor from the Ryman stage and put it center stage at the new Opry House. Anyone who's been on the Opry talks about "standing in that circle". It's hallowed ground, and my feet were on it. At some point I commented on it to Darius, who replied, "I know, right? We'll take it whenever we can get it!” 

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We finish rehearsal, and I go put my hot rollers in. Then they call dress I march back to the BGV section thinking my Demi duties are over. Nope. So now my goofy butt is standing in the circle in some fucking curlers. *insert crying w/laughter emoji* Drea made me run out there before anyone else took their places so she could snap a pic without breaking the unwritten but understood "don't take undue advantage of your proximity to stars by doing dumb shit" rule. 


Fast forward a few hours - we're all dressed and the hair and makeup ladies have transformed me into a much more glamorous and high-haired version of myself than I could ever achieve on my own, no matter how long I leave them curlers in. We get called to Brad's dressing room to run the tune one more time. That's when I meet Demi. Me: "I was the one filling in for you at rehearsal today." Demi: "you're the one with the curlers?" Me: "Guilty." *insert 47 more crying w/laughter emojis*

The actual performance was magical, and the audience was on their feet and hollering the whole time. After we finished, Tim & Faith did their little PSA right in front of us. Then Faith came straight over to the singers and gave us all "dang that was great" hugs. She's so lovely. Darius found us in the hallway and complimented us too, so we snagged a pic with him.


By the time I got home, the entire show was up on youtube so I got to see what everybody else saw. The video below is just our song*, but the whole show was put together amazingly well - it's worth a watch if you can find it on youtube. (*I initially had the whole show here but that link disappeared.) I was honored to be a part of the entire, crazy networked-in-real-time-between-four-cities live broadcast. And at last count we'd raised over 44 million dollars for hurricane relief! Way to go, America. (Awww....Bernie Mac.... *sniff*) It's a strange and difficult tango sometimes, balancing my artist side and my 20 Feet From Stardom "sideman" side. I've heard plenty of advice saying I have to pick one or the other. Maybe that would be easier, but it wouldn't be authentic or half as much fun. (I mean, c'mon - like #singernerd could be satisified with just singing lead? ALL TEH PARTS ARE BELONG TO ME.) I truly love getting to do both. Here's hoping that circle stays unbroken too.