Check out this Ugly Duckling story of how one musician brought three of us together. Erin, Belle and Mariah share their experience meeting each other for the first time this past summer.
When Jenny Simmons first messaged me asking if I knew a place in my area that would be interested in hosting a free concert, I was ecstatic. I had heard Jenny singing a song called “Hope Now” in a trailer for a movie almost three years before. I think hearing the song saved my life. I had met her on twitter shortly after. Since then, we’d become “twitter besties”, and I’d prayed I would one day get the chance to attend one of her shows and meet her.
When Jenny’s album came out at the beginning of 2013, I couldn’t think of an album that better fit my life. I was actually embarking on launching THIS project (The Ugly Ducklings) with Marie at that very time while struggling through that annoying part of life called “growing up”. The album is entitled “The Becoming” (I mean, COME ON, Ugly Ducklings!). The theme of many songs are the things we’d read about in our Ugly Duckling stories time and time again as this movement began growing… “Letting You Go”, “Don’t Lose Heart”, “The InBetween”…
As I began planning the concert, I also began spreading the world about it to any of the local (and… the not so local) Ugly Ducklings I knew…
I was going through a very tough time when Erin first introduced me to Jenny’s music. A friend of mine had just passed away, and I was frantically emailing my Ugly Duckling friends for support. Erin suggested I listen to a few of the songs that Jenny sang, and somehow I instantly felt comfort. Songs such as ”Don’t Wait” and “Won’t let me Go” by Addison Road, with Jenny’s beautiful voice, made me feel powerful even through the sadness that I had been challenged to overcome. So a month later when Erin told me that Jenny would be coming to her church to do a concert, I knew I was called to go.
I convinced both my mother and grandmother to come to the concert as well, and truth be told, it was one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. Jenny brought each of us to tears with her stories and her wonderful music. “Broken Hallelujah” was the song that touched me the most, because it is the first song that completely puts my feelings towards my faith in to words. Almost every morning since I have listened to that song and felt strong. “Letting You Go” has a very special place in my heart, because of the connection I feel towards that song and my experiences with dance. I had danced for most of my life when I realized it was time to let go, but it was still, and continues to be, extremely hard for me. So ever since that concert, I listen to these songs along with the rest of “The Becoming” every morning. They remind me that even if it feels as though you can never escape the hard and dark times, there is always light to be found.
When the concert was finished, I had the privilege of spending some time with Jenny and her friends. They were so open and humble, I really felt like I could be myself. I didn’t want the time to end… but I knew it was going to; the next morning, I was taking off for work and Jenny was taking off to head to Michigan for another crazy weekend of shows. But then, Jenny invited me to come to Michigan.
I’m the furthest thing from an impulsive person. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything impulsive in my life. Things have to be planned. I need to be in control… When Jenny said, “Just come to Michigan!”… I immediately said “No, I can’t.”
The next morning as I headed off to work, I was a total basket case. Who knows why. As I drove to work crying about leaving this experience behind, I ended up realizing that I didn’t have to. Why couldn’t I go to Michigan? It’s really not that far. My sister, nephews, etc, live there. There’s no reason I couldn’t go. So I texted Jenny to ask if she was serious… she was. I left work that night, went straight home, threw a bunch of stuff in a backpack and took off to Michigan (as a sidenote: I didn’t even bring any pants other than the ones I was wearing. I had to go to Walmart the next morning in the clothes I’d worn the night before to buy clothes to get me through the rest of the weekend! Impulsive!)
Michigan was incredible. Impulsivity can be incredible, apparently.
I spent two very early mornings with my adorable nephews. My brother completely tuned up my car and changed my oil for free. I spent a total of 18 hours alone in my car, singing my heart out, and contemplating life… and I got to go to the Unity Festival where Jenny was performing and hang out again. Seeing what happens behind the scenes of a show like that gave me a whole new outlook on being an artist/musician. I was filled with both compassion and encouragement. I got a new perspective. This is sometimes very difficult to do.
And I got to meet another Ugly Duckling!
Getting to meet Erin was one of the most exciting things in my life. When Erin told me that she was going to be in Michigan, I knew I wasn’t about to let this chance pass me by. We made plans for the next day and as the moment grew closer, many emotions ran through my mind; truth be told I was a little nervous. Most people who meet me don’t want to remain friends with me because I am quiet and shy… but strangely, that morning I kept having this feeling, a feeling that this person would be different and that I would no longer be rejected. I looked out the window and saw her pulling into the driveway. I took a deep breath and walked outside to meet my new friend.
As I walked up to the car, Erin got out and gave me a friendly hello followed by a hug. I smiled when I saw that we were both wearing our Ugly Ducklings T-shirts, and something inside me knew that I had found a good friend. On our way to lunch, we talked and got to know one another, and I soon discovered that I wasn’t nervous anymore. It was so nice to be able to talk to a friend who didn’t judge me, or make fun of me for my imperfections. When we got to the restaurant, we took our seats, and began to talk more as we waited for our food; we ordered the same thing so I knew we were going to be great friends.
My most favorite part of the day, was when we took our mustache pictures. It was so much fun because we were in the middle of a Walmart parking lot, so we must have looked like a bunch of weirdoes to the other shoppers. It didn’t matter to me, because we aren’t weirdoes; we’re Ugly Ducklings!
As Erin dropped me off at home she handed me Jenny Simmons’ CD. I was so excited to get it. That night I listened to the CD, and was shocked at how much I loved the music. My favorite songs are “Broken Hallelujah” and “Come Healing”. They really spoke to me because I lost my Nana to cancer that summer; I had felt broken since I lost her and these songs gave me hope. Looking back, that day was the beginning of when I started to heal from being broken.
I am so glad to have met these other Ugly Ducklings and I cannot wait to hang out with them again. I am sensing a big road trip if Jenny Simmons returns to the Unity Festival next summer… Hmm…
Please check out Jenny Simmons’ website and twitter; you can get your own copy of “The Becoming” on iTunes or at her online shop here!