PM Experiment

Nice Pipes

Learning to sing from the biggest mouth in town

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Miss Wensday has a big mouth – which, if you’re a professional singer, is a good thing. She uses it all over town, performing at recurring events like Chifferobe and Chanteuse, as well as regular gigs with Miss Wensday and the Cotillions (her vintage band) and the recently-disbanded Miss Wensday and the New Medicinals (which performed her [really good, really catchy] original songs). Simply put: if you haven’t heard of her, you haven’t been listening hard enough. And you should be – because the girl can sing.

I used to sing. Quite a lot, actually. I basically lived Glee in high school, and after graduation my desire to be on stage morphed into an insatiable need to perform karaoke, at one point to the tune of two or three times a week. But for reasons we won’t discuss here, largely pertaining to a decided lack of gay bars in my life for the last several years, I haven’t been doing a lot of singing recently. At least, I haven’t been doing a lot of singing outside the communing with my inner karaoke star that I do in my car every day.

Not long ago, feeling the itch to have a microphone in my hand again, I landed at the Hot Club for their Monday night karaoke. I started out with what I thought was an easy one: “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles, a song that I have performed to acclaim many times in the past. But it was – and I might be a little tough on myself here – a pile of crap. I was nervous, my voice was thin-sounding, and, to borrow a phrase from Randy Jackson, it was a little pitchy, dawg. So I decided to change things, and I went to Miss Wensday for help.

It turns out that during the day, the larger-than-life performer is just Wensday, and she gives singing lessons. Now, there are plenty of choices when it comes to voice teachers –but a lot of them , I know from experience, focus on classical training and learning arias. I didn’t want that. I just wanted to get my voice back in shape and to sing without my hands on the wheel. My lessons with her have focused on pop songs, and on the proper singing technique, which involves your entire body. (“It’s a sport, really,” she says. “You’re just standing still while you do it.”) The real benefit of having someone like Wensday as a voice teacher, though, is all of the tiny tips she has to share that she’s learned from years spent in front of audiences.

We’ve also covered things like how to stretch out your tongue (it really helps), how to isolate your diaphragm and how your facial expression changes the tone of your voice. But more than anything, singing with Wensday is really fun. At my last lesson, we spent half of it dancing around her living room, with me in the role of the jilted lover in “F--- You” and Wensday as my backup singer. Karaoke bars, watch out: I’m back.