I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I consider myself a part of the Oregon Trails generation rather than a Millennial even though by definition I fit in that grouping. I danced in my living room to cassette tapes, played dress up and Barbies, and watched TGIF. When I look back at the things I loved and enjoyed before technology, it was a truly pure existence I led, the age of my youth and innocence. In that world of Barbies, Care Bears, Full House, She-Ra, Pound Puppies, Hugga Bunch, Cabbage Patch Dolls, My Little Pony, Fashion Plates, Muppet Babies, Popples, Cricket and Corky, and Adventures in Pooh Corner, I’d break out my Fisher Price Tape Recorder and pretend that I was the best of them all, the rock star with the pink hair.
Jem. Jem and the Holograms. I believe that this popular 80s cartoon is a huge reason why I became a singer. It’s the absolute truth. Someone looked at me like I was nuts when I said that. How did I decide to become a professional singer from watching a girl band with crazy colored hair dance around and get into more trouble than Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy? Well, I’ll tell you.
I was enthralled by this singing group from the very first episode. A singing group of friends/sisters who traveled the globe to bring truly outrageous, contagious music to everyone and to have exciting and completely unrealistic adventures- I was hooked on this taste of girl power long before the Spice Girls. Their clothes, the Starlight mansion, their genuine hearts and do-good nature, and even their car, the Rockin’ Roadster, were truly outrageous. I would put on performances in my living room as Jem, pink wig and all. Never once did I waver from wanting to be behind the microphone and singing up in the rafters. I loved the band compromised of Kimber, Aja, and Shana. I boo-ed when The Misfits appeared to ruin the day. I cheered when Synergy transformed Jem the rock star into Jerrica the responsible one. I swooned when purple haired Rio would sneak a kiss with Jem or Jerrica. I cried when Ba Nee got her eye surgery and found her father. I disliked Eric Raymond with a passion. I had the red star earrings and at stop lights I would will the green light to come by saying, “Showtime, Synergy!”
But above all, the main draw to this girl band of many hair colors was the music, that glorious music of high notes, simple but thoughtful lyrics, and catchy melodies. I could sing every single song with gusto and heart just like Jem. I FELT that music; it inspired me. Every time Jem threw her arm out to the side, pulled herself in and then released dramatically, closed her eyes with emotion, or winked at the concert-goers, I learned a little something about working a crowd. She made the microphone her prop of magic to share something with everyone who was watching. She let her emotions get to her with a cartooned teardrop. A Saturday morning cartoon captured all of these amazing nuances and told an awesome story through song.
When I started planning my album over a year and a half ago, I wanted to record a Jem song mash-up. The rights aren’t available so it couldn’t happen. But it got me thinking about my favorite rocker once again, inspired me to watch some old throwback videos like this one.
And this one….
When I returned to the studio to re-record my album last month with my amazing friends, I was getting over being sick. I was scared and self-conscious after losing everything last time. What if i didn’t sound as good? What if I disappointed them? What if I just had lost whatever I had that made me a singer, a performer? But then, I let it all go. I performed. I told the story. As silly as it sounds, I embraced my inner Jem, the star, the rocker, or whoever she was to every little girl she inspired. I put my whole heart into every word I recorded. I sounded even better than the first time and I felt it working. I gave myself credit for knowing what I was doing and how to do it. I released my arms to the side and as I closed my eyes, I thought about Jem. I thought about the old saying that the show must go on. It did and it went great.
I’m proud of myself for starting over, for letting the show go on.
I’m proud that I didn’t give up when shit sucked.
I’m glad I let a cartoon, pink haired rock star inspire me.
I’m so excited to share it with everyone because it really is truly outrageous.
At the end of every Jem episode, there was a moral and a happy ending.
I feel like I finally got mine with a little bit of glamour and glitter, fashion and fame.
(If you want to see the article about the Oregon Trail Generation, read it here. It’s absolutely excellent.)