Carrie Manolakos

Scream Out Loud

I never thought I really had much to say. Things change.

Growing up, singing in a children’s choir and doing theatre, I have always been told to sing something a certain way: more vibrato on this note, more of a mix here, more diction on this phrase. Being the polite and well behaved girl that I was, I would do as I was told. I would try to sing like everyone else who had done it before me.

I didn’t realize how much I associated myself with being a singer, until I went on the road with a show and only performed a few times a month. Having a voice was what I leaned on, counted on, worked on, and experimented with. I loved how it made me feel; I loved the public affirmations; I loved that my instrument was connected to my body and I could always carry it with me.

But for the first time in my life, I couldn’t speak…

I was faced with the reality of dealing with myself without that, without being Carrie who sings. I was…just Carrie. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I gained weight, I laughed less, smiled less. I didn’t recognize myself. I remember crying hysterically on the phone to my sister, which I rarely did to begin with. She said “Who is this person? You’re stronger than this. You’re my sister. You can do anything.”

I told myself, if I don’t use this time, to find something greater than what I came in with, I will have failed. To me, I will have failed. I picked up a guitar, taught myself how to play it, and I wrote a song. In cities where there was a piano, I practiced, remembering the little I learned from early childhood, and wrote another song. No rules, no right or wrong way to do it, and no one to please except myself. Sitting alone in a room, with no one listening, I had only one person to make happy.

Backstage, away from home, trapped in a dark theatre, I saw my first glimpse of freedom. This time I will sing my way and say what I want to say. There are no rules. My big old heart was waiting for life to feel so uncomfortable, so off-kilter, so out of place and out of control that something had to come out. I am grateful for the hard. And when it’s still hard, I remind myself everyday what that felt like, and what it made me do.

In a couple of weeks, I will release my first album. It’s called Echo. The chorus of the song is:

I wanna scream out loud

Open my mouth and just yell at the top of my lungs

Go to a place where the echo can ring out and loose ends lay undone

And I don’t need anyone.

When I sing something I love, whether it’s someone else’s song, or my own, I am finally being heard, whether anyone is there or not. The hard is what makes it good. The hard is what makes it worth it. I found the best stuff in the hard. I’m glad it wasn’t easy.