Becca Stevens, "Regina"
When I started writing this blog I wanted to go into all the masterful, technical, musiciany things that I love about "Regina." I could write a whole blog post about how Becca treats the ukulele as the serious instrument it is (something we don't see enough of) and harnesses the full power of its distinctive timbre to create a somber melodic motif. I could go on for days about her incredible voice and the lush vocal harmonies.
But I'm not going to. I'm going to get real with y'all about my obsession with this song.
Once in a while you get a piece of music that's a lifeline. You're floating in the water, trying to keep yourself from going under and suddenly there's something for you to grab onto to carry you through. This was one of those songs for me. This time last year I was wrapping up my master's degree, had no clue what direction my life was going to go in, and was battling massive anxiety and depression (those ugly things we often prefer to sweep under the rug). Frankly, I was in a terrible spot, and most of the deep-seated, horrendous things I was feeling were rooted in one word: unworthiness.
I have so many thoughts on that word and how it was and still is branded onto young women at an astonishingly early age. Some examples of exactly how I was feeling unworthy when this song soared into my life? I was about to get my master's in music! Yay, right? But I felt I didn't deserve it. I felt that I had faked my way though undergrad and grad school and people would see that degree and whisper behind my back, "How on earth did SHE get a master's degree? Guess they're just giving them away these days." I was in school and had two jobs, but in my mind I wasn't working enough hours. I was mooching off of my husband and all of his hard work. I was making good grades, but it was because the professors just wanted me to pass so they didn't have to deal with me again. The list goes on and on, and went on and on until I was in a tailspin, losing altitude and heading for a fiery crash.
Even on the day of the workshop with Becca and with Michelle Williams I was feeling deeply unworthy. Spots were given on a first-come, first-served basis. If skill had been a factor, I thought, I wouldn't have made the cut.
Then Becca played this song, and talked about how the whole album speaks to the idea that women are born as queens and let the world rob us of that over time.
Oh, did that hit home. It was like someone had turned on a thousand lightbulbs. That was me for most of my life. Constantly hiding behind accomplishments and waiting for the other shoe to drop and reveal that I had showed up to the party uninvited and underdressed.
That feeling of unworthiness had prompted me to jump on the hamster wheel and do all the right things as a person and musician in the hopes that I could hide my unworthiness just enough to get by. Write this kind of song, compose for this ensemble, attend this workshop, make that connection, play this event, say this thing, do that thing. I was doing so many things in my life that were just red herrings to throw people off of who I really was deep down.
This song catalyzed a change in me. I realized that all of those feelings were false, and I decided to start saying what I really meant, doing what I really wanted to do, and writing the kind of songs I thought I'd forgotten how to write. It's been a lot of work over the last year. I had to go out and find my lost queen and pull her out of the mire and bring her home. Some days I still have to do that. I probably always will, but I'm miles ahead of where I was.
I know I'm not alone in this. I see it all over social media and hear it in conversation. Women have been hiding for a long time behind a lot of walls. I don't know what your wall might be. I don't know how long you've been behind it, but let this song be your invitation to not just come out from behind the wall, but start demolishing it. You'll probably have to take it apart brick-by-brick but with each brick you break you'll get a little lighter. You'll start to see the true you in the mirror, and you'll take back your crown.
"To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne." -Revelation 3:21