I saw photos of Mary Fahl before I ever heard her sing. I
have to confess that I wondered how it could be that someone that
beautiful is able to sing well too? How does that happen? Even if she never opened
her mouth, artists would be carving her likeness into marble, and nations would
be stamping her image onto their coins. Peter Jackson is probably trying to do
a movie deal to cast her as Galadriel’s sister. This brings me to a secret
theory I have.
I think that the universe has a warehouse of gifts that are
passed out to babies when they’re born. Millions of babies line up every day
somewhere on the far side of heaven (actually they’re probably on their li’l
bellies crawling along), and they are given their unique gifts as they come
through -- sort of like when soldiers are handed their packs. Chubby babies of
every color and creed are tagged with little signs, similar to fortune cookie
messages that read: Can Whistle Good - Interior Decorator - Race Car Driver -
Sanitation Department – Doctor – Lawyer - Indian Chief – Philosopher –
Scientist - Stands with a Fist - Wisecracker – Farmer – Chef – Astronaut -
Ballet dancer - Deep fry cook. Well, maybe not that one.
I can imagine Baby Mary in that line. The angels looked at
her and said, we’re in a generous mood, let’s give this little girl something
incredible. So they gave Baby Mary CLASSIC BEAUTY, so that wherever she goes,
people will sigh at the sight of her face and her pretty arms when she plays
the guitar. And then the angels said; let’s give her a special set of lungs and
a kind of singing voice that we only give out every few hundred years. This
baby has a special mission.
Flash forward to One Longfellow Square on August 11th,
2012. Before Peter and I left our
house, I prayed that my heart would meet Mary Fahl’s heart. I was not familiar
with her music. When I go to a concert, my number one desire is for my
heart to connect with the artist(s). I want to tune into their vibration and
feel what they are presenting.
Mary Fahl came out looking stunning, with her
long blond hair and her fetching black dress. Then she played some thunderous
chords on the guitar, and from the bottom of her being came forth a voice directly
from the female side of God -- the incarnation of the phrase, “And it was
Good”. The power and passion of
Ms. Fahl’s voice was something like coming into the presence of the Burning
Bush. The song was a hit from when she
was lead singer for the group, The October Project. She doesn’t sound like anyone
else. She is herself, singing with the voice she was given. I immediately
thought, I am in the presence of someone who is fulfilling her purpose. It made
me think of this famous quote from Marianne Williamson’s book, “A Return to
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is
nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure
around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not
just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we
consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated
from our fear our presence automatically liberates others.
After several songs, Ms. Fahl spoke warmly to us as if we were
personal friends visiting in her living room. She told funny stories, doing
spot-on Chinese and New Jersey accents, and even one of her husband talking
while eating cereal. She told earthy stories, such as how she was inspired to
write a song about the mythological sirens, while cleaning her mother’s flooded
basement with a shop vac.
She shared a bit about being with the October Project, and
her love for her husband, Rich, who attentively watched over every detail of
her performance that evening. She performed a wide variety of songs. One very unusual choice was “Ben Aindi
Habibi”, an 11th Century Mozarabic song of the court of Spain. There
was a song she wrote in the tradition of Stephen Foster for the movie, Gods and
Generals, entitled, “Going Home”. She did a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides
Now”. Of particular
note was the gorgeous, “Like Johnny Loved June”, a tribute to Johnny Cash and
June Carter. She shared about being enamored at the age of six by a rather
adult love song sung by Dusty Springfield: “Wild is the Wind”. She sang it for
us, of course, and it was ardent!
She described her ambitious project to record a cover album
of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the various problems that occurred
when the record company went belly up. Despite that setback she now has copies of it for sale. She related about some of the frustrations and disappointments
that she suffered while working within the music industry. And how she was so moved one evening while watching the Grammy
Awards and saw Aretha Franklin sing Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” from the opera, Turandot. It was a transforming moment for her. She performed it
exquisitely for us and was herself moved, as she became its vessel.
(As an aside, my
husband and I were quite touched because our cat, Vinny, died this week – hit
by a car. His real name was Vincero, taken from the last line of Nessun Dorma.
Vincero means, “I will win”, and we thought it aptly expressed his personality.)
Mary Fahl could have been a successful singer at any time in human history. Her
voice is the kind destined to sing for kings and queens and it could fill a
hall or be heard from hilltops without amplification. But the miracle was that
she was with us here, in 2012, in Portland, Maine.
I so wanted to meet her after the show, but I had a fashion
emergency. Something popped and I had to scurry from the scene before I
embarrassed myself. But Peter and I talked all the way home, about the songs
that moved us, what made us laugh and cry, and how the evening will stay with
us for a long time to come, because Mary Fahl sang to us from her heart’s core. Check out her
website at maryfahl.com. You can also view some of her performances on Youtube.
For music lovers visiting Portland, Maine, I highly recommend
One Longfellow Square ~ "Portland's Premier Arts Venue"
Check them out at onelongfellowsquare.com.
press photo from maryfahl.com