Hungry in Paradise

I sipped the can of root beer he gave me, looking out at one of Oahu’s best beaches on my free trip to Hawai’i. The water was an unbelievable blue. The mountains rose in the sky, the palm trees swayed to the perfect breeze. The sound of happy tourists wasn’t loud enough to be annoying.

Why would he give me a soda?

I turned my back to the beach and stole a last look at his tent. He was hidden behind the others, but I knew he was right where I left him. Probably looking over the fruit and pastries I brought him. He just wanted to give me something back. Somehow, I understood that. The grasping at the assurance you earned something, even as a homeless man accepting food from strangers.

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I was on staff for a volunteer trip. I was pretty much in Hawai’i in charge of 30 teenagers for 10 days. Our very last service project was to bring food to the homeless (or, in correct terms, “houseless”) at Waimanalo Beach Park. We handed out sandwiches, chicken, fruits, to the people who lived in tents by the ocean. These people were there illegally, so every once in a while security would do a sweep and they’d all have to pack up and move to another spot, cycling locations like this one.

But we’d been in Waimanalo Beach before, though just to swim in the crystal clear water. How did I not notice the tents when we were there the first time? Why did I just go about my fun, blind to the hurting?

What a thought, to be hungry in paradise. 

The irony of living in a tent, unsure of your next meal, right next to one of the most beautiful beaches in one of the world’s biggest vacation spots.

Throughout my time in Hawai’i, I would find myself at a homeless shelter one moment and snorkeling the next. Handing out food on the streets one second and shopping for souvenirs the next. It reminded me of every trip I’ve made to the Philippines, navigating through the slums with orphans clinging to my arms one day and the next being delivered a mango smoothie by the beach at a private resort with my extended family. driving past kids digging through the trash on my way to a nice restaurant.
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I used to hate the irony. I hated myself for it. I double and triple checked my motives when Hope worldwide sent me Hawai’i to help run this program. Because not going to lie, it’s nice here. Really, really nice. But I knew I wasn’t coming for a vacation. I was coming to do work.

So how does one explain that? “Yes, I’m going to Hawaii this summer, but it’s for a volunteer program.” How do I talk about it without making my trip sound like something it’s not? If I post too much about the service it’s like I’m hiding that I did fun stuff too. If I post all the fun stuff, everyone will think the whole “service trip” thing was just a facade. If I post both, it seems like I’m two-faced. 

 

But the thing is, there are so many places around the world where poverty and privilege dance around each other in a clash of cultures. Everywhere neighbors the rich and the poor, we just don’t always see it. 

A place has just as much depth and complexity as a person. A person can be loud and quiet, shy and confident, happy and sad. A place can be a #1 vacation spot and have families living on the streets. 

So what now? If we take time to realize that some of our favorite luxury vacation spots are miles away from starving children, does that mean we can’t enjoy said luxury? Shall we demonize the rich to compensate for ignoring the poor? When would that ever be a solution?

Guilting people into not enjoying their vacations does not seem like the answer to me. To me the only thing that seems helpful is to see the opportunity within the irony. To acknowledge the abundance that I have, whether that be assurance of my next meal or the ability to fly to Hawai’i, to see the needs around us and acknowledge their proximity. To see that our neighbor is hungry and to capitalize on exactly that. That they’re our neighbors, which means they’re right there.

Maybe Jesus was on to something when he said to “love your neighbor.” I’ve grown up taking Jesus’ metaphors as they come no matter how seemingly random or confusing, but maybe his choice of “neighbor” as a metaphor was a reminder and an encouragement. There are so many people in need of love in this world, it can be overwhelming. So what’s the good news? They’re right there. Neighbors.

Seeing the poverty in Hawai’i made me uncomfortable. The thought of thousands of people coming in and out of these islands unaware of the hurting made me uncomfortable. But isn’t this the case anywhere you go? Wherever you live there’s Uptown and there’s the ghetto. So whether I’m flying to Hawai’i or going to school in Dallas, it’s something to keep in mind. People have a different experience in every city I go to. And I think the key is to remember that everywhere you go there’s something beautiful to see, something fun to do, but also someone hurting to help. And I’d hate for that thought to drive guilt, but rather, awareness that there is always something to be done.

I think we should always enjoy our vacations, I think we should rest and soak up the fun and live in the moment and squeeze every bit of happiness out of life that we can. But perhaps we can do better at seeing our neighbors and how their prison might be our paradise.

Oh, am I being a downer?

Oops.

I Asked Hillsong UNITED for Worship Advice

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This interview ended up being about 3 or 4 times longer than most. Here’s why.

I lost my marbles when the Observer asked me to set up an interview with someone in Hillsong UNITED. I sing and play their songs on a weekly basis. I’m a worship leader at my church, so I can’t count the amount of times I’ve sung or led a congregation in singing Oceans, The Stand or Hosanna. To say that worship has had a huge impact on my life is an understatement (though I’ll probably write more on that in a later post). I spend hours a week rehearsing worship songs, or singing to God on my own or with friends, especially my boyfriend. I’ve sung at churches around the country, and so much of what I play is from Hillsong. Not everything, but a lot. Most of the song requests I get are Hillsong songs. And I know some people bash them for having songs that sound the same or whatever, but all I say to that is “let’s see you do better.” Is that mean? Whatever.

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I respect Hillsong United so much because of how well they’ve been able to create music that is cool and accessible to youth while holding on to the heart of what worshipping God should be about. So when I got a call from JD, one of the OG members of Hillsong United, I lost it. I mean, the guy gets to sing to God for a living.

(JD is the guy in the video with long hair and glasses.)

It was early in Australia but late afternoon where I was answering the call. After my initial gush of “omg I love worship too” super professional intro, we dove in with some intro questions like what’s the difference between UNITED and Hillsong Young and Free, and stuff like that.

Some things I learned?

  • JD was 13 when he and his youth group friends started writing songs and formed Hillsong UNITED.
  • When they’re not on tour, they’re part of their worship teams at home and participate just like any other volunteer.
  • Hillsong UNITED is the “original” band, with Hillsong Young and Free being a band that started to focus more on the youth. And Hillsong Worship is their actual church’s worship.

Here’s some snippets from the interview:

JD: Thursday nights we do rehearsals we call team nights and we come together and do devotions and pray and rehearse and then be a part of Sundays. Most of us are, like I’m one of the worship pastors here in Sydney so we just help out. Make sure the church is happening on weekends and there’s a lot of people not in United that are making it happen as well and I just work alongside them.

Isabel: Because worshiping God and playing music is in a way a job, how do you balance that? …

I think what’s been amazing about our journey is we never set out to make a job out of it or that it would become what we do with our lives, we’ve always kind of viewed it as our service to God and our volunteering and involvement of church. The truth is all of us were doing this for years and years before it ever became a job and we’d be working- I remember I did everything from working in McDonald’s and working in cafes and then leading worship and doing our youth ministry…. None of us started this to get a job out of it but it’s been amazing and we’re amazed at God making these opportunities for us. And I think United is really a family and a strong community so we make sure that if anyone’s feeling down we’re able to pick them up and if anyone starts to be a little too high we can pull them down, it’s the great thing about  I think church or family or cumminty. If someone’s going to get a big head then there’s plenty of brothers and sisters there to help that head gets small but more importantly when people are down or struggling we’re there to lift them up and it’s an amazing dynamic.

That’s awesome. So what do you think makes a good worship band?

I think skinny jeans and long hair.

That’s true!

I’m glad you’re laughing.

But I think going off of what I just said I think the desire to bring glory to God, the desire to establish God’s truth here on earth and tell everyone that we can that we have some really good news and that is that God sent his son Jesus so we wouldn’t have to be lost but that we could feel comfort in our pain and the greatest gift of all is salvation. So I think in my mind it’s great to have big dreams and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to write songs that people around the world will sing or people want their songs to travel to millions and billions of people and to go and travel the world to large crowds and that’s great but to be honest that’s the least important thing when it comes to having a worship band. The most important thing is that our lives will bring honor and glory to God. Paul writes in Timothy that we need to live a life worthy of the calling that God has for each and every one of us….

I eventually started asking him questions about their upcoming tour, his musical influences… the typical things you ask when you interview an artist. But right when the interview was reaching to 3x longer than what’s unspokenl-y expected, I ventured to beg for a couple more questions.

Alright, I only have two more questions for you. I could honestly ask you questions for hours but I won’t take up too much more of your time

All good. That’s fine, I wish I had hours as well! I’m glad to talk to someone as passionate about it!

So my worship team is practicing tomorrow night, and I was wondering if you had any advice for a worship band, worship team? Any words of wisdom?

Ugh. Gosh, I could talk for hours on this because I love it and I’m on this journey myself of trying to do the best I possibly can but I think that in what we do as a worship team there’s two elements. There’s obviously the spiritual side of trying to lead people into the presence of God and getting people’s eyes and attention to God and there’s also the practical and physical element of trying to make the songs sound as good as they can and not stuffing it up, singing the right words, hitting the right chords and all that and staying on time and all the things that come. So there’s always this tension of, can I keep up? It’s one eye on God and one eye on the people type thing. There’s that balance of actually worshipping yourself but also making sure all these elements are lining up as well as possible to get people to go to God with as much ease as possible. So I think my biggest advice would be from my journey of doing this is that that’s all important and we got to do it all as best as we possibly can but never, ever, um I would say never ever- I’m trying to word it best as I can but never ever take the focus off trying to honor God and worship who he is ourselves. I think the greatest way we can actually lead people into worshipping God is to worship God. And so the temptation is to perform or the temptation is to sing a song really well or for people to think the service is awesome but to be honest it’s great to do all that stuff but as long as it becomes a very long second to when we’re on that platform in a worship sergice actually worship God for who he is. People see that and that’s contagious. And that’s attractive. And so keeping that pure heart of okay we’re going to worship God first and foremost. You can’t ignore all the other elements otherwise we’ll lose people but don’t get it around the other day where we do everything to set it up to be amazing and then we try to worship God. No, you start with trying to worship God first and people will see that and if you lead someone in worship worship God first.

Thank you so much for that. I know, I said two more questions, but can I ask you one more? I’m so sorry this is taking so long.

That’s alright I’ll give you one more.

I was wondering what your convictions are on the pairing of music and faith and why music is such a key part in worshipping God. I know it’s a big question.

It is a big question and I’ll answer as quickly as possible but it’ll be, number one, because God created it. God created everything to bring glory to worship himself. The Bible talks about how even the rocks will cry out. God created beautiful creation, I think we see even a sunset and a beach, God created that. And it reflects his beauty. Everything reflects it…. I think we can take God’s creation like a mirro… Music in its purest form was created to glorify God. That’s why we all love it and some people out there aren’t using their music to glorify God but even those songs  in the mainstream like big anthems everyone loves that’s a big extension of God’s creation. I think, number one, it’s so powerful because God created it, but I think secondly if you read all scripture it teaches us to sing. It teaches us to break into song. And I think we’re also instructed to use whatever we have to show people who God is. Music is one of those but it’s also kind of a universal language. I can’t remember who exactly said it but it’s that music has a way of entering your heart without asking permission. So I think that if that’s what we love and with UNITED and we sing songs and travel, my favorite is when we hear people who have never set foot in a church or don’t have anything to do with God or maybe had a bad experience when they were younger or have disbelief but somehow someone will play them one of our songs through the beauty of streaming with Spotify or Apple Music and all the rest of it, and our songs find their way into random playlists and people listen to our music without even realizing that it’s worship or Christian. And the testimonies people email us like, I didn’t want anything to do with God or church but there’s something about this song that makes me cry or gives me peace. I think that’s the power of music. And it’s powerful because God created it and it’s at its purest and best form when it’s giving him glory or telling the glory of who God is or what he’s done.

That’s awesome. Wow. Thank you so much for your time.

No problem, it was fun. It was good to talk to someone who is so passionate about worship!

There it is, folks. To be honest, I almost didn’t want to share it because it was just something so special to me. Sure, a lot of Hillsong songs sound similar, or whatever people wanna say about it, but their songwriting has gotten me through a lot and has helped me in my spiritual and emotional connection to God. And for that I am forever thankful.

Click here for the article!

I Guess I’m Rich

In my fashion class, my professor played the documentary “Sweatshop Deadly Fashion,” a film I now highly recommend. The film follows three fashion bloggers as they journey to Cambodia to discover the working conditions of sweatshop laborers.

The documentary was very well made and is one of those things I wish I could force the whole world to watch because we should all be more aware of where our clothes come from. If you wear clothes, you should be paying attention to the fact that your purchases at H&M or stores like it cost someone on the other side of the world everything.

I won’t try to explain the movie, you should see it for yourself and see its impact firsthand. Click here to watch.

But the funny thing about watching this film in class was the context in which I watched it.

When the first few scenes rolled across the classroom projector, I thought the movie was set in the Philippines. The third world scenes playing out in front of me were so familiar. It looked like home.

The weird thing? I was sitting in a room of SMU students. Now, I am fully willing to admit that not everyone at Southern Methodist University fits the stereotypes we’re usually placed in, but the majority do. It costs over $60,000 to go to SMU every year. I go to school with a pretty high tax bracket. Most of my classmates come in to class with Gucci bags, Chanel wallets, leggings that cost more than I spend on food for a month. It’s a different world over here.

When I lived in the third world, I wasn’t very poor. My family was considered middle class. And that’s what we are here in the America. Middle class. Not poor, but never quite reaching the lifestyle of some. Which I like, but it’s just a little weird sometimes.

I’ve written before about my struggle with living amongst the privileged and coming from a place where I saw poverty everywhere I went. It’s an odd weight that comes with chasing the American dream.

The sweatshop documentary shined a light on the way factory workers lived, what they earned, how hard they worked. The term “unfair” doesn’t even begin to cover it. And the fact that everything happened through the eyes of fashion bloggers was even more interesting.

Because (and I say this as a blogger myself, though not a fashion blogger and not by any means an earning blogger) let’s face it, fashion bloggers are often seen as rather shallow or spoiled, even. They live picture perfect Instagram lives and make their living off either shopping or receiving very nice free things. At least, that’s what’s usually thought. Am I wrong?

But I realized- looking from the Gucci girls sitting next to me in class, to the fashion bloggers on the screen, to the poor factory workers they were speaking to- I was at a strange crossroads.

So many of my people are the ones working for less than $3 a day under horrible conditions, but instead of being there with them, I’m on the other side. I found myself sitting with these girls who grew up in mansions and online shop to their heart’s content. Obviously I’m an odd one out because I’m a scholarship student who has to work at least a couple jobs to get by, but sometimes I forget that I’m rich. I’m so, so rich. Sure, I’ve never shopped at Gucci. I can’t even afford the Gap most times. But I live on the other side and I have a duty to take responsibility for that.

I don’t know why I get to be the one buying clothes instead of making them, but I need to learn to make my purchases in a way that I don’t have to be ashamed of.

Probably my favorite way of practicing ethical shopping is buying all my clothes at a thrift store. Not only is it super duper cheap, but by recycling clothes in that way, I am proud not to waste the hard work of sweatshop laborers.

This is only the beginning of my journey to work on being more and more ethical, but it’s a start, isn’t it?

 

My Video Journalism Adventures

I love journalism. It’s been amazing getting to study it. The Journalism department at SMU is incredible and has been such a blessing.

But there’s one class I’ve dreaded taking.

And the funny thing is, the professor of that class is probably going to read this blog post.

You see, I love writing. It’s my thing. It’s the thing that comes the easiest to me and I have no doubt it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. Writing news is exciting and fun to me. But it’s not all there is to journalism. There’s this other world that I haven’t touched yet.

Broadcast. Video.

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The class is Basic Video and Audio Production. I’ve put off taking it for two years.

I didn’t understand why all Journalism and Fashion Media majors had to take this class. Most of us were writers, anyway. The thought of all the work that was going to go into the labs, the projects, the news show participation, was stressing me out. I always preferred reading the news to watching it, and I had no desire to be a TV anchor.

But I’m a few weeks into the class now and I have to say, I get it.

Am I going to work in TV? Probably not. Am I going to become a camera man or a news anchor? Almost definitely not. But I’m starting to understand this other world of journalism more and I’m thankful for it.

So here I am, with the knowledge of how to work a $3,000 video camera. I’ve been going to the news studio at SMU twice a week, often at 7am, to help produce a real life live news show. I now know how to work a teleprompter, another camera bigger than a small horse, and important news writing software. So no, I don’t think this class will turn me into a TV personality, but I’ve been enjoying the journey of understanding video journalism and every step it takes to do it.

So with no further ado, I present to you my first video project. Shot by said $3,000 camera.

Dear Isabel, (12/2018)

Dear Isabel,

I’m writing at a family getaway by a lake, a couple hours from town. And for the first time in a while, I feel like I can breathe.

You’re about to start a crazy semester.

You have a hard time saying no. So with your full load of school, by the end of this coming semester you’re going to have 3 jobs, 2 internships, 2 majors, a minor, and are going to be mentoring 2 girls and be a part of 2 worship teams. You’re crazy, but that’s besides the point.

Because what do you do when you’re offered jobs and internships other people would kill for? You were born in the 3rd world at the other side of the globe, so your everyday life is an unimaginable blessing- the opportunities that come with living in America are treasures coveted by much of your kin. So you take every blessing you can get, feeling a duty to say yes for those who will never get the chance.

And that’s good. And that’s bad.

But there are a couple of things you can’t forget.

Don’t forget to reflect. With saying “yes” to more comes a lot of adventure. Many ups and downs. Always take time to look back even if it’s just at the day you just had. Keep up your journal, that’s important.

Don’t forget to prioritize. Something will slip. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re failing at everything since you’re stretched too thin, but always remember what’s important. And never discount self care and creativity as important, no matter what people tell you. Yes, it’s worth it sometimes to loose sleep for a project, but don’t feel guilty for taking the time to do what your soul loves. Create. Make music. You know you need it.

Don’t forget to bring others in. Always try to find ways to bring others into your crazy life. God knows you need them. If you get a concert job, invite a friend. If you get a cool interview, see who wants to listen in. Make sure when you’re blessed you don’t keep it to yourself, and when you’re stressed you don’t keep it a secret.

Don’t forget that none of this is about you! Yes, you worked hard. But all the opportunities you get are from God. And he’s bigger than any career. He loves you and can’t wait for you to make him proud.

Hanging Out with Bobby Sessions (and Presenting at an Awards Show)

They had my face huge on the screen.

“Once the drag queen comes out of the cake, you’re up.”

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I nodded to my editor and a fellow Dallas Observer writer and I walked onstage, envelops in hand.

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The Canton Theater was full of local artists and Dallas music enthusiasts. All eyes were on me as I read out the nominees to the Dallas Observer Music Awards and then did the whole “And the winner is…” while opening the envelope.

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One of the names I read was “Bobby Sessions.” He was nominated for a few awards throughout the night, and won 3 of the biggest ones.

The next day, my friend Yani who works for the Universal Music Group asked me to photograph her interview with him.

I arrived at a management studio in Deep Ellum. Bobby Session’s manager, Vince, came to the lobby to get me. When we came up the elevator, Yani and Bobby were sitting on a black leather couch. They both got up to greet me.

Bobby Sessions sang the title track for the new movie featuring KJ Appa, Amanda Selberg, and Common, The Hate U Give.

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I took some candid shots of Bobby and Yani as he spoke about his career, his life and his personal connection with the issues in the movie.

Once the interview ended, Yani and I just kind of stayed and chilled in the room with him, his manager, and his girlfriend. We just got to chatting. We talked Kanye West, SMU, and other random things.

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Here’s where I took advantage of the situation. I asked him about interviews he’s had with people and what has made a good and bad interviewer. He told me a few key tips:

  1. Be genuine, but don’t sound fake.
  2. Be genuine, but don’t sound disinterested.
  3. Ask questions you genuinely want to know, because the interviewee can tell if you do.

That’s it. Then he took us to the roof of the studio where he often hangs out and thinks. It had a breathless view of downtown Dallas.

Bobby Sessions is a deep thinker and an artists through and through, but he’s also just a chill kid. Almost everything he said was profound, and it was cool to get to know him just as his career is taking off.

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DSM Gala: Kinda Awkward, Yet Kinda Epic

After getting to interview Jane Lynch for the Dallas Observer, Dallas Summer Musicals offered me two tickets to DSM Best of Broadway Gala, which she was hosting.

Knowing the show would also feature Matthew Morrison (Mr. Scheuster on Glee) and Shoshana Bean (the first woman who dared to fill Idina Menzel’s shoes as Elphaba in Wicked, was in the original cast of Hairspray as Shelley, and has played my personal favorite, Fanny Brice in Funny Girl), I invited the person I’ve geeked out with for years over both Wicked and Glee, my sister.

We dressed up and were very excited.

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The article with the interview of Jane explains the event and its purpose better, but basically it’s a benefit show. But before the show, donors/sponsors (what word do I even use) got to go to a fancy dinner DSM hosted. To be a sponsor, you could donate anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000. These people were loaded.

The show started out with that big “WOOOAAAAAH” *BOOM* from The Greatest Showman, done by some local high school theater kids. Then, none other than Jane Lynch herself walked out in the red coat and top had and mimicked Hugh Jackman’s opening number, “The Greatest Show.”

Yeah. I saw Jane Lynch perform the opening to The Greatest Showman

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Lynch was charming, but added a couple very Sue Sylvester-y quips by yelling at the kids to get off stage, but she was mostly nice.

She introduced Shoshana Bean, who came out in the most dazzling sparkly dress ever. If I were a Broadway diva performing a set, that dress is exactly what I would wear.

She was extraordinary. Her voice had strength and texture and her range was impeccable. She sang a few jazz numbers with the band and was super fun to watch. She maybe sang two pitchy notes but she was close to flawless. I am now a big Shoshana fan. I even gushed to her on Instagram.

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16 years…Still my boo ❤️

A post shared by Shoshana Bean (@shobean) on

Then, the queen left the stage.

Here is where the technical difficulties came in.

There were some problems with the mics and a stage hand had to actually come out and unplug mics and chords right in front of Jane Lynch. Lynch, however, being a professional, pointed at him and said, “Showbusiness, everyone.”

Jane introduced Matthew Morrison, her sworn enemy for years on the show, and the two hugged onstage. It was a little weird.

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Matt did his thing. He was pretty good, he sang and danced. He was Mr. Scheuster through and through.

My sister rolled her eyes. She’s always hated his character on TV because he’s so freaking dramatic. I thought his performance was okay. He was off tempo every once in a while but no one can doubt he was born to be a performer. But it really just felt like an episode of Glee. Watch literally any scene where Will Scheuster had a fedora and that’s pretty much what we saw.

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But my eyes weren’t on Matthew Morrison. They were on the guy at the piano.

I kept poking my sister. “I think that’s Brad.” I whispered.

In Glee, every time someone sings in the choir room, there’s a random guy who always plays the piano. And he never spoke. Just, every episode, he was there. Playing the piano to back up whatever dramatic number one of the characters were performing. I think he spoke once the whole show, and they called him Brad.

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And I was right. After insisting and insisting to my sister that it was him, Matthew verified “Some of you might know Brad…” HA.

Matt was in Hairspray, and when he said “I played Link,” I said, “Of course you did.” He did a pretty impressive mashup of all the best songs from the musical, talking us through and summarizing the smash hit within a matter of minutes. It was really good. Then he walked offstage and told us to have a good night. That means he’s done, right?

Then there was a super awkward pause. Did something go wrong? Luckily, Brad kept the band playing, but it seemed like no one knew what was going on.

Then Matthew Morrison awkwardly came back onstage, and performed “Singin’ in the Rain” complete with an umbrella. I don’t know what happened. Maybe he was waiting for us to yell for an encore? Did he forget he still had another song? Super awkward. His last number was good, though.

 

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On all the ads for the event, only Jane, Matthew, and Shoshandra were shown. But they said to expect a surprise guest. Who will it be?

It was Joshua Henry, the guy who played Aaron Burr in Hamilton’s first US tour. I hadn’t heard of him, but to hear one of the first to play a huge role in one of the biggest musicals of all time was a real treat.

Also, for those who follow me on Instagram, (@isagram.98, *shameless plug*) ya’ll would know that I saw Ed Sheeran the week before. Ed did a cover of Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good,” and it was pretty good. But Henry blew it out of the water.

Joshua Henry’s voice was one of the strongest I’ve heard in my life. His cover of “Feeling Good” was 10x better than what Ed Sheeran did the week before, I’m telling you. And that’s saying a lot, because I love Ed.

Anyway.

We thought that was it, right? Two Broadway stars and a surprise Broadway star. But no.

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After a short break, Jane Lynch’s voice called out, “This is the voice of God.”

She then announced that none other than Loren Allred, the voice behind the song “Never Enough” from the greatest Showman…

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…yes, that song, was here to perform. And yes, the actress of Jenny Lind didn’t actually sing the song in the movie. I don’t know why they didn’t just get Loren to play her, but will we ever understand the movie industry?

But yes.

The stunning Loren Allred, the voice behind The Greatest Showman’s “Never Enough,” came out to belt the song and it was incredible. Flawless. Better than it was in the movie. I was dying.

*que shaky, kinda illegal video someone took that I found on Insta:

Okay, it was also kind of awkward because right as Allred came out, Jane Lynch’s mic wasn’t muted so we heard her cracking jokes offstage as the singer was about to begin. But we’ll try to forget that happened.

Then, the last song.

Four high schoolers from one of the programs we were benefiting came out and sang the first couple lines to “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman. They were actually pretty impressive. A few other high school students came out to sing and dance and they were less impressive, but I can understand being off tempo and scared when you’re not a seasoned Broadway star.

I didn’t know I needed to hear the voice of Jenny Lind, Aaron Burr from Hamilton, Elphaba from Wicked, Mr. Scheuster, and Sue Sylvester sing “This is Me” until I heard it. There were still a couple technical difficulties, but it was kinda epic.

Straight out of an episode of Glee.

(Shaky *illegal lol* video someone took that I found on Instgram)