My high-school a cappella teacher would embarrass me in front of the choir. 'Mavis, you're in the basement. Mavis, you're singing with the boys.' I said, 'Mr. Finch, my voice isn't soprano. I can't sing up there with the girls.' So I just got out of the choir.
Robert Plant, Kenny Chesney, Mavis Staples, Taj Mahal, this incredible array of folks, all taught me a way to carry yourself with dignity.
I was asked to sing with Mavis Staples on a gospel compilation called 'Oh Happy Day.' And, you know, other than being totally intimidated at the prospect of singing with Mavis, I was honored. I don't really have much of a background in gospel music.
I heard Smokey Robinson was singing one of my songs on the radio the other day. Being in the presence of Mavis Staples, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott - Stevie Wonder joined me on stage recently. That blows me away.
It wasn't until I started to read short stories - by people like Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, John Updike... Eudora Welty - that I became excited about the possibilities of writing.
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