My life, as told through 12 songs

By Maya Singhal

1. Yes, I was a Backstreet Boys kid. Also an *NSYNC kid. It was difficult to choose between this song or “Bye Bye Bye,” another personal favorite of mine. However, as much as I love JT, I have to choose Nick Carter. Even with the ridiculous hair cut. Let’s be honest here, even JT had frosted tips back in the day.

2. I don’t remember when I first heard the Bach Double; however, I distinctly remember receiving Hilary Hahn’s Bach Concertos CD as a present from my uncle. For most children, a CD of classical music would not have been given even a second thought, but I was enthralled. I fell in love with Hillary Hahn. Looking back, I guess she embodied everything I ever aspired to be: a young lady who made a name for herself through an enviable combination of her talent and her dedication.

3. I remember being a tiny 7-year-old, watching the big high school girls in the older kids’ choir sing “Tshotsholoza” at my very first choir concert. I remember the expressions on their faces and their little gestures, and I remember trying to imitate them. Who knew that 9 years later, I would be just like them? At the time, I had no idea, and yet, this one song inspired me to continue with choir, which in turn led me to fall deeply in love with singing and music. I guess, I have been ever since.

4. “Where You Lead” is the theme song for Gilmore Girls, which is probably the only TV show that I can honestly say changed my life (my apologies to How I Met Your Mother). To me, this was not just the theme song for my favorite show, it was a theme song for countless nights, in which my best friend and I stayed up far later than we should have, snuggled in bed with a laptop and the box set of Gilmore Girls, watching episode after episode, stopping only for snacks, gossip sessions and late-night bouts of crying.

5. There is nothing in the world like singing in a choir of 27,000 people, and I was so lucky to be part of the Estonian Song Festival in 2009. It was an experience that truly crossed borders, both figuratively and literally, and the effect that the festival left on me could never be effectively put into words. I could never do that 300,000 person crowd justice, nor the sights and sounds and smells of the lively festival grounds. It was truly magical.

6. The finale of Shostakovich’s 5th symphony is powerful enough when played in any setting; however, playing this piece in an outdoor amphitheater under the redwood trees with all of your new best friends after the most amazing 2 weeks at camp is even more powerful. I remember sitting in dress rehearsal, moved to tears by the power of the music and my experience, and I knew then that Cazadero Performing Arts Camp had changed my life forever.

7. You never forget your first concert: the pulse of the beat through the sun-soaked crowd, the smoke and bubbles, the feeling of connectedness to everyone else experiencing the music with you.

8. Ever since my cousin had introduced me to Yellowcard when I was probably about 10, I have loved them. To my delight, freshman year, I finally rediscovered them, and, while I could never bring myself to choose a favorite song, “Only One” is the song to which I somehow keep returning.

9. This woman is my idol. Seeing her in concert only reaffirmed my devotion.

10. And so begins my Billie Holiday obsession. She is the epitome of both perfection and imperfection. In other words, she is the amplification of the average human. She is everything and then so much more.

11. Somehow, even after playing this song on street corners for 5 hours, I still loved it. How? I’ll never know.

12. I know it’s cheesy, but this song has gotten me through so many things, from hours of work in layout for the Coat of Arms, to hours of work scrubbing dishes. It was the soundtrack to my summer, and, despite the pointlessness and seeming-stupidity of the song, it’s happy. And that counts for a lot.

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