Friday, February 26, 2010
She got the talent. And the cheekbones.
My sister is a professional musician with the kind of voice that will stop traffic. I think I know how she ended up with all the talent in the family...I'm pretty sure that before we were born, we made some sort of deal wherein she got the talent, and I got the naturally blond hair. Do I regret this deal, now that I'm a real person? Sometimes, but then I go look in the mirror and think YOWZA! Good deal! Anyhow, I could go on (and on) about her music, but instead I'll let you listen to it yourself. Go ahead. Enjoy it.
She lives in Seattle and has for over eleven years. She is extremely well known out there and has played in those big venues with the electric stars that glitter overhead. Whenever I attended her shows, I would waltz passed the long line and say, "I"m on the guest list" and they'd wave me through. This more than made up for the fact that whenever I introduced myself in that town, or produced a credit card with my name on it, this is what I got: 'wait- are you....are you related to Anna Coogan??"
Anna spent a few years training to be an Opera singer at the Mozarteum in Austria, before deciding the hell with this and giving up Opera forever. Now she sings...I don't know how to describe it, but it's hip and beautiful and it's all her own. However, those La Traviata-trained pipes of hers can still really fill up a theater. Meaning to say, she's got a powerful voice. She has the vocal chord equivelent of a Dodge Ram Truck. Whenever we're talking I find myself saying "Anna- ANNA I'M RIGHT HERE I'M NEXT TO YOU STOP SHOUTING." And she'll say "OH SORRY," and keep right on going.
On the day she was married, I was walking down 6th avenue in downtown Seattle during rush hour. It was after the ceremony and I was heading towards a nice restaraunt to have dinner with the family. And suddenly from out of nowhere I heard: "LIIIINA!" Only it was more like "LIIIIIINA!" (Which is the biggest text I have ever used on this blog, in case you are wondering.)
I stopped and looked all around. And there she was- Anna in her wedding dress shouting my name from TWO FULL CITY BLOCKS AWAY. During RUSH HOUR. I could barely even see her.
What amazes me about Anna and what she's doing is how much courage it takes. We are both trying to make it in alternative routes- me writing, Anna music. After so many hours/weeks/years of putting out our best possible effort- exhausting, draining, often disheartening- our success is wholly based on whether or not we have managed to attract the attention and demand of total strangers. After a point, whether we sucseed or fail is completely out of our hands- which can be excruciating, considering what we do is so personal.
I get to hide, in all senses of the word. I hide behind a screen when I write, and most of my interactions with readers is through blessedly impresonal email. I chart my readers and revenue through Google Analytics, which boils everything down to numbers and graphs. Let's say that on a certain day, nobody looks at my blog. Nobody so much as opens the page and has a glance. I get a little zero on the chart for the day. Thankfully, this doesn't happen anymore, but it used to. A lot. But the beauty of it is that nobody has to know. I can go drink a big pina collada in a coconut and stew over my total failure and unpopularity. But I am certainly not going to tell anyone about it! My little secret! And let me tell you, the past few years have been studded with big coconut drinks.
Anna doesn't have it so easy, so hidden. She faces her success or her lack of it with every single show, meaning there are lots of people in the audience, or there are not lots of people in the audience. When she was just starting out, she would open mics with just a handful of people scattered around the tables watching the overhead TVs. Once- I swear to God- I travelled with her to Bellingham, WA where she co-played a show with a woman who spent her portion of the time talking about her Cat ("we call him The Captain"!) and when, during that moment, I ran out of the place laughing hysterically, I don't think there was anyone left in there.
Thankfully, it didn't take long until her talent spring-launched her into success and she was playing sold out shows in huge venues like the Triple Door downtown. Not to mention a festival in Europe with David Gray and Lucinda Williams. But still - every single time she is putting her entire self out there. I could write my most deepest and darkest if secrets, things I should never tell anybody and share them here and still, that would not come close to 'putting myself out there' the way my sister does, and will do for the rest of her life.
I know one thing: I could never, ever, ever do it. But I'm so thankful she is able (willing, eager) to do it, and once you hear her sing, you will be, too.