I’m hosting a giveaway for the first time in a long time. I think Michael Jackson (link to the post I wrote after he died) and his family are really talented so when someone reached out to me to see if I’d write a post about the newly released DVD and host a giveaway if they sent me a free review copy, I said “Yes, thank you!”
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The Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD retails for $32.99 for a DVD and it’s $39.99 on Blu-Ray.
The kids watched all of the 23 episodes and really enjoyed them! I wasn’t able to watch all of them due to regularly scheduled “mom duties” and work related stuff, but I did see many of them. Despite hearing the “ABC-123″ song way more times than I have in my entire life before now, I really enjoyed them too. It was neat (a.k.a. groovy) how they took classic fairy tales and turned them into shows that had a “hairy godfather,” “The Wizard of Soul,” “Michael In Wonderland,” “Jackson and the Beanstalk,” etc. Michael loses his glass sneaker when he sneaks out to the ball and the pretty girl finds him in typical “Cinderjackson” style. In another one, Michael eats a poisoned apple and needs to be awakened by a princess’ kiss. Their pet mice (Ray & Charles) & snake (Rosey) join in on the antics and the episodes even teach nice lessons about topics like taking care of nature. The episodes were a fun flashback to the 1970′s and the songs that made the Jackson 5 (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael) famous.
Here’s the blurb from the folks giving away the free copy: “For the first time ever, the famous Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD is on video … available to the public since January 15, 2013! Introduced in 1971, the cartoon takes the Jackson brothers on a colorful journey, teaching them a life lesson along the way of all 23 episodes. Making this DVD extra special is that each episode features two digitally re-mastered tracks from the Jackson 5ive! We think this is something that all Jackson fans, music fans and the 1970’s in general will love, as the cartoon brings back the glory years and celebrates the immense talents that each Jackson possessed. Not only do I think you will enjoy this DVD, but believe your kids will be captivated by the incredible music and colorful animation of the Jackson 5ive!”
How can you win? Just leave a comment on why you (or someone you know) like Michael, The Jackson 5, or any of the other talented Jackson family members, and the kids and I will sort of randomly select a name on Friday, March 29, 2013. The lucky winner will be put in touch with the promoters of the video and will receive a free DVD directly from them. It’s as easy as A, B, C, and 1, 2, 3!
| Filed under: competition
, Just For Fun
, product review
| Tags: 123
, jackson 5
, jackson five
, michael jackson
| 9 Comments »
Organizational alignment, managing change, and/or getting ready for company growth is not easy. Companies who spend time addressing organizational health definitely have a competitive advantage. One way to help assess health is to help management and everyone on the team understand their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve written on this blog several times about self analysis and assessments from Strengths Finder 2.0 to career inventory tests to reading tons of articles fiction or non-fiction based.
One tool that many companies and business schools use is Myers-Briggs. I have taken that assessment 3 times and each time I am an ENTJ. I recently took it again as part of a management team exercise and my T was softer (probably due to the tons of heart related work I’ve done) and my J was stronger (probably because I’ve had to rely more on my planning skills with 2 kids, working full time, consulting part time, and attempting to work on my music).
Below is an infographic on Myers-Briggs Personality Type and Social Media Usage and here are some other interesting articles having to do with how people process decisions and change:
Ten Reasons People Resist Change
7 Social Psychology Studies to Help You Convert Prospects into Paying Customers
Making Choices: How Your Brain Decides
| Filed under: diversity
, social media
, social networks
| Tags: change management
, myers briggs
, resisting change
, social media
, strengths finder
, strengths finder 2.0
| 6 Comments »
Well, we finally did it. Brett Jason Wintermeyer, my songwriting partner and fellow Metaphor Maniac (link to facebook page that we haven’t actively publicized yet, but hope to soon), finally filed a copyright on 4 of our songs last week. We were trying for a 5th, but we kept getting stuck so we gave up in the hopes we’d be inspired later. 4 is a lucky number, right?
It’s important to keep in mind that all artists own the rights to their works and have immediate copyright protection even if they don’t submit for a copyright registration. Having a copyright registration just helps the artist in case some legal issues or unfair usage claims arise. We might submit them to some songwriting sites so I thought it best to do the legal thing.
The creation of the 4 songs took much longer than we thought given we met on average one night every 2 to 3 weeks. Over 1.5 years later, we finally felt they were in good enough condition to “finalize” and file. I’m sure we’ll continue to tweak them as we practice and perform them live.
The process of filing wasn’t that difficult. You go to the US Copyright Office page and create a log in with tedious password requirements. I heard that within the last year they implemented the ability to do it all electronically so you can now upload your files. It’s $35 per song or compilation. If you wanted to register 9 songs as part of a CD compilation, you could do the entire compilation for just $35! We chose to file separately after I conferred with a music attorney in town, Christian L. Castle Attorneys. We don’t know if we’ll ever make a CD or if we will just play/sing them socially. Rob Wells, their Director of Artist Relations, walked me through the process quickly, and I was able to do most of it on my own. It’s a little tricky the first time to know what items to check, what category to select, and what info you need. It takes 90 days for the copyright office to review submissions.
There are two different things you can copyright when it comes to songs. One is the music & lyrics and the other is the sound recording. It’s important to understand the distinction to figure out when or if to file for one or both types of protection. It’s best to talk with an attorney as to what’s best for you. The chances of our songs making it big are pretty slim for many (7 billion people on the planet and millions of songwriters doing this full-time) reasons, but it’s kind of neat to potentially have an official, documented claim to a piece of work.
The songs range from pop, jazz, to rock and their titles are below.
- Save Me From Myself – my favorite (Jason created this amazing “sweet” guitar picking intro to the song that makes me smile & tear up at the same time)
- Look At Me – Jason’s favorite based on chords/melody he created many years ago that happened to fit my lyrics. We also affectionately refer to this one as our ‘elevator musack song.’
- Fatal Attraction (or Soul Mate) – a jazz piano song (think: grand piano/lounge singer) about the foolishness of love and its often mistaken identity
- Soul Escape – a rock song based on wanting to escape bad, noisy (and sometimes silent) connections with people
Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to perform these live some day. The lyrics were inspired by many things but mostly my kids and a few people & experiences that profoundly impacted me at critical junctures in my life.
| Filed under: music
| Tags: christian castle
, copyrighting songs
, metaphor mania
, metaphor maniac
, rob wells
| 4 Comments »
The Austin Songwriters Symposium that I wrote about in my previous post was amazing! It wrapped up this morning after a Sunday morning gospel jam session with the attendees and a lunchtime jam session with the pros. I don’t attend church often, but I love gospel music and hymns…they really pull at the heart strings of us
sinners non perfect people. I learned a lot about a whole different industry. It’s even harder to make it in that industry than being a high tech entrepreneur. Songwriters are entrepreneurs. The main difference is that most songwriters make it on their own merit or maybe co-write with one or two other people. To build a successful high tech company requires hundreds of people moving in the same direction and buying into the same vision. The payoff can be bigger (95% of songwriters don’t make much money) in building a company but the complexity is higher. Most songwriters seemed to originally have wanted to make it big themselves as a singer singing their own songs but find themselves barely getting by playing their own songs in clubs or the more savvy ones end up writing for the great, well-known singers.
People like Joe Ely, Sonny Throckmorton, Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman (she sang a song called Dare To Dance Alone (YouTube) this morning that she co-wrote with Gary Burr that really touched me), Will Sexton, and Matthew Santos were in attendance and were either performing and/or hosting workshops. It was an eye opener. All of them wrote their own songs or wrote songs for many of the household name country singers of our time like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Waylon Jennings, etc. I certainly don’t have any
delusions visions that my songs will be published and adopted by great singers but it was nice to know I was not alone in wanting to create new songs. There were people of all ages and different stages of discovering songwriting. I met with a publisher and he had some great advice on a couple of the songs I had co-written…most of it I knew already, but there was a gem or two.
I didn’t realize before I attended how heavy the emphasis would be on country music, but I picked up a saying or two. One of them was the country music was nothing more than “three chords and the truth.” And that certainly seemed accurate to me by the end of the symposium…and the painful truth of us being human certainly comes out a lot in the lyrics of country music.
Attending the conference was a nice break from my daily routine and it was great to hear world class music played by people who obviously loved what they did. I was so impressed how they could get up on stage together, never played a song together, and then play off each other to produce professional sounding concerts. They way they were able to improvise and produce a joyful noise made me seriously think about finally learning to play the guitar!
| Filed under: entrepreneurship
| Tags: austin songwriter symposium
, faith hill
, gary burr
, georgia middleman
, joe ely
, martina mcbride
, matthew santos
, reba mcentire
, sonny throckmorton
, will sexton
| 2 Comments »
I haven’t blogged too much about music or songwriting recently, but I signed up to attend the Austin Songwriters Group 8th Annual Songwriting Symposium this weekend and tonight was the first night…well it’s now past midnight as I’m writing this post. My voice teacher, Gene Raymond at Octave Higher, forwarded me a notice about it only a week ago and I figured ‘what the heck, I should go.’ So far so good. They had songwriters from Texas and Nashville singing their original music tonight. It was like having a semi-private concert given by very talented song writers in a smoke-free room where everyone was really interested in listening to the singers. In other words, people were focused on them and not talking to each other, trying to pick up dates, or drinking to excess. They were all so good and all of them said that no one goes into songwriting for the money. A guy named Jim Photoglo made a funny joke about marriage, sex, money, and songwriting but it’s probably not appropriate to write here. I’m looking forward to a guy named Sonny Throckmorton and a gal named Kimmie Rhodes talk about co-writing songs tomorrow (or shall I say later this morning).
Congressman Lloyd Doggett showed up since he’s a big supporter of the Austin music scene and gave a little speech. There were many references to some great country singers like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, etc. because most of the music the singer/songwriters played this evening was country music. Whenever I hear country music, I remember a guy I worked with at Mr. Gatti’s pizza in high school who told me when I told him that I hated country music that it was because my heart hadn’t been really broken yet…and he was right. I get teary eyed when I hear good country music now.
I signed up to pitch my songs to one of three publishers who will be there on Sunday morning. We get 15 minutes with a publisher. I hope I’m brave enough to hum a few bars when it’s my turn because our songs are still in varying degrees of completion. I wish my songwriting partner could be there, but he’s too busy playing live gigs! We are hoping our schedules will allow us to finally record some of our stuff this year. I mean…come on…we have a facebook page for our two person band, so we have to accomplish something, right? Please go like our page: METAPHOR MANIA. I think we need 25 people to like it to remove the numbers from the URL so…do the right thing and wish me luck in pitching…I could use some positive affirmation right about now.
| Filed under: entrepreneurship
| Tags: austin songwriting symposium
, country music
, gene raymond
, johnny cash
, lloyd doggett
, merle haggard
, metaphor mania
, mr gattis
, octave higher
, willie nelson
| 1 Comment »
I saw Paul Simon in concert last night at the Cedar Park Center. He’s 70. He was amazing! He is one of the top singer/songwriters of our time. Such talent. Simon & Garfunkel (even though they had apparently broken up by then) helped get me through my teenage years because many of their songs helped me process some of the things I was dealing with at the time. When he sang “Sound of Silence” during his second encore, most of the audience had their phones up recording him.
Why is it some people can discover their passion/talent, be good at and succeed at it until they are 70? While others, like many of us, seem to fumble around trying to figure it out? C’est la vie!
| Filed under: singing
, success story
| Tags: paul simon
, simon and garfunkel
| Comments Off
Where does it go? Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future… (you tube). So much going on but so little time to write about it. My daughter lost her first tooth when she was almost a year older than when my son lost his and the tooth fairy came to visit. I know this because I did a blog post about it and if I hadn’t, I’m not sure I would have remembered when he lost it. Thank goodness for blogging! She was in Mexico when it happened visiting her cousins and apparently instead of a tooth fairy, the tooth mouse visits and she got pesos instead.
Check out Beat the Heat Happy Hour – July 20 and Sales & Business Development Lunch & Learn – July 13, 2011 for posts written by the Austin Technology Incubator marketing intern, Kirsten Frazee, on two recent events I coordinated for our member companies.
Check out our highly non-publicized facebook page called Metaphor Mania for info on our songwriting endeavors that are moving at the snail like pace of the silvery, slimy trail in between our busy lives.
The kids are in summer camp with varying degrees of happiness depending on the day and if there is a cool field trip involved. They are learning social survival skills, and I’m learning skills on how not to worry when I leave my daughter in a room full of unknown kids with teenage camp counselors.
Hopefully in the next few weeks, I can blog about another shift in my life…a very good one
Until then, I’ll be breathing deeply and trying not to drink too much red wine.
| Filed under: austin technology incubator
| Tags: austin technology incubator
, metaphor mania
, time keeps on slipping
, tooth fairy
, tooth mouse
| Comments Off
This post went out accidentally via email yesterday before I had finished editing it. I wanted to let it sit overnight and re-read it before publishing it. Although I had reverted back to Draft in WordPress, Feedburner did not get the message and sent it out. Fortunately, the edits are not major but were more for clarity. However, if you read it the first time, I suggest you read it again because those few changes will likely change your understanding of what I was trying to convey. I also took out some not so relevant sentences and added a couple links to the book on Amazon should you be interested in purchasing it.
My best friend of 23 years is an English professor. We met during my first day in the dorm before starting my freshman year in college. I was a business major who didn’t know much about English other than writing seemed to come easily for me even at a young age. I can trace my interest in creative writing back to a 5th grade teacher I had the first year I moved to Lubbock, Texas. I would make A’s and A+’s on my English papers in high school for creativity but practically fail grammar until my freshman year in college when grammar all of a sudden made sense to me. Or maybe I should say I quit trying to make sense of grammar and accepted it for what it was. My best friend is a grammar guru and maybe the combination of taking freshman English and typing her papers for her, because I typed faster than she did, somehow helped me get the practice I needed to improve my grammar and punctuation.
Our professional worlds rarely collide, but when I’m facing a situation personally or professionally, she often has a reference to literature (sadly, my knowledge of great literature is not deep or wide given my business degrees) to help me try to make sense of what is happening. Fiction is fiction but as a writer I have come to appreciate that really good fiction is based often times quite heavily on the author’s direct experience or observation of others. A book that my friend suggested I read a while back when I was going through my personal family transition is called The Awakening by Kate Chopin (wikipedia) [The Awakening (Norton Critical Editions) - Amazon link], but she didn’t think it wise for me to read it while in the middle of my turmoil since the main character kills herself and she was concerned about me. Not that I ever had suicidal tendencies, but it was probably wise I wait to read it because I’ve come to realize that the state of being one is in when they read certain words has a huge impact on how they receive and interpret those words. So I read it this weekend.
The book was banished for decades after Kate Chopin wrote it in 1899 for it’s scandalous depiction of Edna, a married woman with two young boys, and her behavior. I find it scandalous even today given her dramatic moves, an affair with not one but two men (one physical, one emotional), feeling no remorse, shame or guilt, and then killing herself when she can’t be with the man she loves thereby leaving behind two young children. But it was back in the late 1800′s, when most women had no means to support themselves and they had to remain in situations they did not want to be in. The man also loves her but knows he can’t be with her because of the rules of their society and withdraws himself from her life. Since Edna is not able to pursue other opportunities or escape her current life, she resorts to killing herself (you’ll have to read the book to see how she does it) rather than live in a despondent world “without the vibrant colors of love.”
The main character, Edna, was 28 going on 29 when she began the awakening process. I was 38 going on 39 when I started to realize I was waking up to a different perception of myself and the world around me. I remember words I read in an email, I remember my response, I remember the place, the person, the drink, the conversation, the expression, a twinge that when placed together triggered a shift in my being that resulted in my songwriting, journaling, poem writing, emotion laden emails to co-workers, family and friends (i.e., gushes from my writer’s soul that had been behind an enormous dam for a long time). I sought understanding through courses like Landmark (Transformation in Process and Who I Was Being Was Not Exactly Who I Am) and Search Within that both guided the participant to live an authentic life and not what Henry David Thoreau writes in Walden – “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” That was a quote my best friend reminded me of this past weekend. I couldn’t go to the grave with the song still in me, and I hope I don’t die (mostly for my children’s sake) before I release the songs based on my lyrics that I’ve been working on with my songwriting partner. I also hope I don’t die before I find what some people call their soul mate so I can sing him my song, and he’ll understand it just as I will understand his song.
Here are some interesting quotes from the book written by an author who was 32 years old, widowed with 6 kids:
“In short, Mrs. Pontellier [Edna] was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relation as an individual to the world within and about her. This may seem like a ponderous weight of wisdom to descend upon the soul of a young woman of twenty-eight –perhaps more wisdom than the Holy Ghost is usually pleased to vouchsafe to any woman.” p. 17
“She [Edna] is not one of us; she is not like us. She might make the unfortunate blunder of taking you seriously.” [This was said by Edna's friend to the man, known to Edna's husband, who eventually became the object of her love. Edna was not Creole but apparently it was common for young, unmarried men to cater to the needs of married women and flirt with them in that society.]
“Edna began to feel like one who awakens gradually out of a dream, a delicious, grotesque, impossible dream, to feel again the realities pressing into her soul.” p. 41
“He [the doctor] observed his hostess attentively from under his shaggy brows, and noted a subtle change which had transformed her from the listless woman he had known into a being who, for the moment, seemed palpitant with the forces of life. Her speech was warm and energetic. There was no repression in her glance or gesture. She reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun.” p. 92
“Yes,” she [Edna] said. “The years that are gone seem like dreams — if one might go on sleeping and dreaming — but to wake up and find–oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” p. 147
| Filed under: book review
| Tags: book review
, edna pontellier
, english professor
, henry david thoreau
, kate chopin
, the awakening
| 8 Comments »
I hired someone recently to update (way overdue) my blog design. His name is Brian Hurdle (photographer extraordinaire), and I think it’s going to look very nice, clean, and professional…oh and cool. He’s going to add a musical element to it since my current entrepreneurial endeavor is songwriting related. He’s going to remove the clip art girl on the phone, change the font, put a nice graphic, move it to a 2 column theme, etc. I can’t wait for it to be ready as I’m hoping it will inspire a new wave and direction of blog writing for me.
Speaking of songwriting, I forwarded a quote from Jeffrey Fry’s quotables to my songwriting partner, Brett Jason Wintermeyer that said:
“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” –Chinese Proverb
To me it meant that a bird sings because she is born to…because the bird cannot be herself without singing her song. Or maybe it’s boy birds that sing…well, it doesn’t matter. He replied by saying “Reminds me of someone I know who has a song to sing “ I was not expecting that response as I had not connected that saying to one of the songs we are working on based on my lyrics. The title of the song is called “I Have A Song To Sing.” I don’t know why I didn’t connect the two, but the second line in the song after “I have a song to sing” is “But you won’t let me sing it.” That lyric is (c) copyright 2010-2011 Aruni S. Gunasegaram by the way!
I guess that’s why it’s important to have a songwriting partner or talented people in your life…to help you connect the dots…
| Filed under: entrepreneurship
| Tags: blog update
, brett jason wintermeyer
, brian hurdle
, jeffrey fry
| 5 Comments »
I interviewed Sandi Aitken (pdf) for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the Sep/Oct 2006 issue. My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together a while back and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog. You can see the full article on Sandi by clicking HERE (pdf). I haven’t connected with Sandi since the interview so I’m not even sure if she’s still at Freescale, but here’s an overview:
Sandi was/is a benefits manager for Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. in Austin. Previously she was Director of Wellness and work/life programs for Motorola and health and fitness coordinator for Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp. She was also health and fitness program coordinator, director of nursing, critical care instructor, and director of the cardiac rehab and pulmonary education center for St. David’s Community Hospital. She was awarded Texas Nurse of the Year and held a Chair position for the Seton Cove board of directors. She received her MS from UT Austin in Nursing.
Success has a lot to do with being true to your life’s purpose, vision, and goals. Often, that means running counter to what our culture’s definition of success is, because so often in our society, success is defined by your material worth or the initials behind your name. Making money is important on a certain level, but what’s really important is to know your heart, to find your passion. Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.” Like so many things in life, it seems so simple, but there’s probably nothing harder to do.
She goes on to say:
Finding that alignment between your head and your heart, while at the same time not getting caught up in external pressures, is critical.
Oh, if everyone could be true to themselves, what a world this would be. But as Sandi noted it is so hard to do because being true to ourselves doesn’t always go over well with other people in our lives. Aligning head and heart is something I struggle with as do many others because what your heart/passion wants you to do in your career and life doesn’t always mesh up with what is practical given life’s responsibilities and other people’s expectations.
I’m working on trying to mesh some of my passion/heart’s desires with life’s practicalities. Today I scheduled a make-up voice lesson with my voice instructor, Gene Raymond, who I really enjoy working with, and brought the kids with me. I’ve brought them to a lesson once before. I bring them coloring books and they color without fussing at all. I think they think it is funny to hear mommy sing scales and do vocal exercises. Some of the vocal exercises are quite funny.
A few of the songs I’m working on right now are Killing Me Softly With His Song (Roberta Flack), Play Me (Neil Diamond – changing the ‘she’s’ to ‘he’s'), and The Rose (Bette Midler). I have the opportunity to take a lesson with a teacher at a level higher than Gene in this particular style of coaching called Speech Level Singing in a couple of weeks. This teacher has sung with Bette Midler and trained several American Idol singers. I’m looking forward to it and hoping I don’t choke!
| Filed under: music
, success story
| Tags: gene raymond
, sandi aitken
, speech level singing
, The Alcalde
, voice lessons
| 1 Comment »
I just got back from a fabulous visit with my mom. I even got to see my sister. It was a much needed mini-life break, and it was nice to have the three of us together again. I could use more of those breaks, but I’m just ever so grateful to have a place to run away for a little bit and a husband who I trust completely to take care of the kids while I’m gone…well maybe a few things get forgotten but everyone survived!
One of my new year non-resolutions was to sing more. Since then, I’ve received an offer to sing with one of my bosses who I hardly see because he’s one, two (actually it’s unclear) levels above me, but he also happened to hire me to teach entrepreneurship back in the day so I know him reasonably well. I’m not sure if or when that will happen, but I hear he’s a pretty good guitar player. The other thing that happened is that my dear husband got me some singing lessons!
Now hubby has been hit and miss with presents…especially the big ones (when he hasn’t consulted with me first), but I have to say this gift was probably one of the more thoughtful ones he’s given me. I was skeptical at first because he found the teacher online, and I had visions of some weird, washed up, wrinkled singer with a cane giving lessons because they couldn’t make it in the ‘real’ world. But I was pleasantly proven wrong by Julie at Fiore Music Studio. She has a great operatic voice. I promptly told her I wasn’t interested in singing opera and she was totally fine with that. She travels on tour from time to time.
I’ve taken 3 lessons so far and I’m down to my last one and will probably sign up for a few more. The first lesson we just practiced warm ups and scales. I left thinking, “Hmmm…not sure if I want to sing scales for the next several lessons.” The second lesson she told me I had good pitch and an ear for music that is very hard to teach and in addition to singing scales we worked on one of my favorite hymns “Amazing Grace.” I left more inspired to come back next time. On my third visit we did some different warm up exercises and worked on “Summertime“ by George Gershwin. For my next visit, I’ve printed out lyrics for “The Rose” sung by Bette Midler and “Blue Moon” sung by such greats at Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald to work on.
The day of my first lesson, Julie and I were talking and she said something that struck me as she was describing singers. She said something like “That’s why singers are neurotic.“ I said to myself “Well darn the luck, so are most entrepreneurs! I’m doubly screwed if I decide to label myself a singer too.” So there you have it, I’ve just discovered I’m qualified to be a singer…well at least on the neuroses scale.
Now if there’s proof that someone has to be a little neurotic to run operations at a technology incubator, then it appears I have found myself existing at the right place in time to battle three neuroses. Wish me luck. There must be a professor writing a textbook in need of a research subject out there somewhere…
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, voice lessons
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