Mama, I Want To Sing
How the gift of a $30 Broadway ticket helped change the life of a child and opened up the path to realizing her dream of becoming a Broadway performer.
Children love to dream. Some dream of taking the stage one day, performing in front of an enthralled audience, singing and dancing their heart out to a standing ovation. In dreams, the sky is the limit.
But then reality can be a rude awakening.
Especially, if you are one of ‘them.’
Despite having a dream that seems so real that you know deep in your soul that it is your calling, the harsh reality is a distinct lack of resources and support to get you there just because you happen to be born to a less-than-privileged socio-economic background.
Each time her chorus teacher asked Barbara what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would reply “ I want to perform on Broadway.” She would go on about how she would travel the world and bedazzle her audience with her vocal skills so much so that her teacher purchased for her a $30 ticket to watch a Broadway show that was coming to town. Barbara was over the moon!
The name of the show was “Mama, I Want to Sing”. Sitting in the theater by herself, Barbara was so moved by the performance that she felt tears coursing down her cheeks She realized then that this was what she wanted to do, no, what she was born to do and that was to be on stage.
To perform before a spellbound audience.
“Mama, I want to sing,” she told her mom on returning home from the show. “You’ll get there, you’ll get there — right after you get this degree in education” was her mom’s response. Based on her own experience with financial struggles, her mom wanted Barbara to get her degree first in order to have something to fall back on in case Broadway didn’t pan out.
Following her mom’s advice, Barbara went off to college and finally in 2006 made her debut in an Off-Broadway show. She has since traveled the world as a performer — she is a contralto with a 5-octave range.
To say that it all started with a thoughtful gift from a compassionate soul shows how little it actually takes to change the trajectory of a child’s life.
Today Barbara is giving back to her community. In 2016 she created a nonprofit organization, Arts in CT to get everyone on stage to create arts, irrespective of their socio-economic background.
She recounts a story about how it came to be. She was facing funding challenges at the performing arts center she was running on account of some parents complaining to her about why they had to pay so much. Her explanation that it was in order to cover the budget was met with this response“We don’t want to pay for them too!” They were referring to the underprivileged kids in the program. Since she considers herself one of ‘them,’ the discrimination in the comment struck Barbara deeply.
That was when she decided to do something about the situation. As a result, her organization Arts in CT was born.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to perform, like I did in high school, and they should not be limited to singing and theater. Instead, I include all forms of arts, such as edible, visual, performing, and techno arts, and I provide opportunities for professionals to teach children how to develop their gifts” — Barbara Alexander
Arts in CT has both an in-house center for everyone to come together to create arts as well as an outreach program that spans the entire state in bringing the arts to schools, libraries, old age centers, and communities — especially the low-income ones. She mainly depends on grants to be able to do this.
To date, the outreach program has been able to impact 20,000 people in less than 6 months which is amazing in itself. She looks forward to continuing this effort and continuing to help as many people as possible.
I introduce Ms. Barbara Alexander — visionary, businesswoman, teacher, humanitarian and, CEO of Arts in CT to tell her story in her own words.
Useful, beautiful and informative piece. :)
WOW! Yana, this is such a beautiful story. And you do good work with Arts in CT. Well done.