I wish Jason Mraz would go back to his roots, commented a commentator recently. This I pondered.
Do they mean go back to Slovakia? Or only as far back as Virginia? I assumed the wish was music related, but still I wondered if they meant I go back as far as Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact, programs that kick-started my little musical self into action. Certainly not. I doubt the comment came from my pre-school teacher. The request must have been referring to the origin of my original music; my public debut; The long defunct R&B group, Dressed To Kill.
Yes, my awkward boy band Dressed To Kill, whose influences included Boyz II Men, Color Me Badd (who are still active BTW!) and The Jackson 5. I was the youngest in the group at 13, but I had the highest voice which meant I always sang the Michael Jackson parts. We played such esteemed venues as The Stew Festival, A UCA Cheerleading Competition, and Jennifer Richardson’s 15th birthday party.
The first song I ever wrote I penned during 8th grade civics class. Recorded then over an instrumental b-side of a C+C music factory song, my song went straight into rotation at Skate America. Played only once, but awesome enough that people kept skating to it without noticing a break in the flow. I Think I Love You Girl, was the song that would land me the invitation to join the group who already sang similar hits such as, Baby, I’m Hooked On You and You Make Me Feel Alive, Girl. We spoke a common language, girl.
Some of the other guys in the group were much older. One of them a 911 dispatcher, which may as well have been a police officer, would often tell me to avoid women, which I found strange considering women were the focus of our material. But he said women were like drugs and once I had a taste, I’d only want them more. Just say no he said. So I took his advice and channeled my wanting in song.
It’s also during those short years singing in the group and skating around in circles that my contribution to climate change is at it’s greatest. After all, my hair needed to be aerodynamic for jive skating, so I would empty my sister’s aerosol hairspray every Friday while blow drying all of my hair to the right like a gentle sloping lady-killing wave. Looking back I conclude it was important to feel cool, even if I wasn’t.
By the time I was 16, a year before Justin Bieber came into the world, I had forgotten about Dressed To Kill and began dabbling in equally embarrassing art forms in high school: show choir, drama, cheerleading, jazz, tap & ballet, burying the VHS tapes of the boy band era and, unapologetically, moved on.