Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Watching Taylor Swift at Grammys reminded me why I sing

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12 2013 1:46 p.m. MST

Watching Miss Taylor Swift open the Grammys on Sunday night brought back a lot of memories. Memories such as walking the red carpet with her at the ACM awards before her superstardom days. Back when I thought my name would be much bigger than hers because I was fresh off “American Idol” and was a little naïve about what it actually took to grab the attention of a major label. Back when we were both “on the brink.”

Swift went on to achieve huge success with her music career and I, well, went on to start a little family and live more of a quiet life.

Sometimes, when I watch shows like the Grammys and see fellow artists perform that I actually knew, talked with, took pictures with and even sang with — Swift, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood — it opens up a tiny place in my heart that longs for that life again.

I was lucky enough to get a small taste of “making it” in my teen years. Because I was so young, it was all very magical for me. Making music, being on the road, performing to thousands of people was exhilarating. It’s a rush.

But when I honestly asked myself if everything that came with living that kind of fast-paced, ever-changing rocky lifestyle made me happy … I would have to say no.

When I was in high school, I thought singing was everything. I remember thinking one day, “What is one thing I have that I would be the most disappointed if it were taken away?” The answer came easy.

It was my voice.

I believed my voice made me who I was. It defined me. It opened doors — set me apart. I was extremely confident and thought in my mind that I really, truly could do anything with my talent.

The more I sang, the more I wanted to sing, but not for the right reasons. I was singing because I loved it, but I was always singing for someone else. I was singing to earn a place in honor choir in high school — which I didn’t, until my senior year. I sang to earn a place on “American Idol,” again, which I didn’t earn right away — I was called back by the judges to be Simon’s “wildcard” pick two months after I was cut. And then finally, I sang to try and earn enough votes to make me Season 2’s winner, which I wasn't. I placed in the top 6 before being eliminated.

After the show, I stopped singing. I stopped singing for other people because I was so afraid of being judged. I hated the thought of trying to prove myself, and I hated that I didn’t have the self-confidence I once did. My spirit was broken, and most heartbreakingly, I stopped singing for myself.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found my voice again. It was at the point where I was guided down a much different path than the one I had originally started down. I found out I was expecting my first son just months after my first album hit the stores.

And at the time when I was trying so hard to be someone I thought I had always wanted to be, I discovered an indescribable joy in becoming a mother. Suddenly, singing became joyful to me again. Losing myself in raising a family has opened a part of my heart that has freed my soul of any feelings of jealousy, bitterness, fear or desperation. How funny it is that at the time when I let go of everything I knew, I discovered who I really was.

Now, I sing because I’m happy. It comes from such an emotional place. It’s directly connected to who I am, and something I don’t ever want to change. I couldn’t untangle that part from myself any easier than I could untangle my spirit from my body.

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