Monday, September 15, 2008

Guest Blog - Chris Riggins

I was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to my father a Coca-Cola salesman and my mother a stay at home wife. I am one of three boys and due to my birth order I suffer from MCS (middle child syndrome). Any other MCS children out there? Let's hear it for the Middle children! Yee Haw! I also consider myself a good ol'southern boy due to the fact that I basically lived all across the south and love a hearty southern meal.

I was thrown into singing with my first solo at the age of 4 in Atlanta, GA I have loved it ever since. As I was growing up I sang everywhere I could, churches, the car, shower and to the dogs (and sometimes the dogs sang back) but of coarse my brothers preferred the dog's singing to mine. My brothers never made it easy for me. They tried every way they could to make me mess up, forget my words or laugh. It was always easier to make me laugh because I have a laughing problem. Sometimes I just can't stop. I remember one time I got a solo at my church in the big yearly adult choir production. I was supposed to start the whole thing off. There I was waiting to sing and something tickled my funny bone and I was off to the laughing farm. I couldn't stop, I had the whole audience laughing with me until I heard God's deep Voice from above. Chrrrriiiiiissss It wasn't God, but it was my earthly father of whom I had more fear of at that time. So immediately I stopped laughing and began to sing. Even to this day I love to laugh and encourage everyone to get a good dose of laughter in your daily diet.

I was introduced to the professional world at the age of 9. I was in Birmingham, Alabama at this time and a Gospel Recording artist, Candi Staton, went to our church. She asked me and a few others to sing background on her new album. It was really cool because her album was nominated for a Grammy and I remember sitting on the edge of my seat watching the show getting all worked up waiting to hear her name. She didn't win but none the less it was exciting and I said to myself, Next time, I will be in the seat waiting for them to call my name. So I knew even back then that singing is what I wanted to do.

I remember singing along to my mother's records forcing myself to cry at the very sappy songs of the Carpenters, Barry Manilow, and others of the like. So I guess that is where my romantic side was born, in sappy love songs. Still to this day I love that kind of music because it moves me and I can see that it also moves my audience. What I focus on while I am singing is to get lost in the words and the feeling of the song. I try to fully open my heart and soul and let the audience see my emotions. You can't imagine the joy and weightlessness I feel while I am singing. If you, the audience can experience just an ounce of that joy and overwhelming emotion during a song I will have done my job. It is a wonderful high. Music occupies the area between Earth and Heaven or might I say that it is the closest we can get to heaven while still being on earth.

People usually ask me, How does a country boy from the south get involved in Classical Music? My first response is that I feel classical music found me. My mother studied voice in college for two years before dropping out to raise my brothers and me. So she had the classical ear to help guide me. My voice just didn't fit the typical model of pop singing as my brothers so skillfully brought to my attention. For example, they would sing Micheal Jackson so straight and fully pronounced You know I am Bad, I am bad, you know it..jump on and then burst out in laughter. I must say, I thought it was funny too but I dare not let them see me laugh at their joke.

Then in my senior year I decided to start taking voice lessons at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. My voice really started to develop and the classical repertoire fit like a glove. I then went on to Cincinnati Conservatory where I got my undergraduate degree, and almost finished my Master's but I got a great job and I have been working as a Singer ever since! Twelve years and counting.

A defining moment in my musical development was in my teenage years. I have to tip my hat to my father here because I know he didn't get it easy. I was really heavily into sports. I always was growing up. My parents exposed us to everything and let us choose what we liked the most. Although when we did we had a mandatory 6 month commitment and sometimes a year. Once we chose a sport they said ok here we go. If this is what you want to do then you will learn how to do it properly. So off to lessons and coachings we went, on top of regular practice times. This lesson has proved invaluable in my life. Thanks mom and dad. Back to my main story, one of my sports was football. I had the size and body for this sport, I played in junior league and in the eighth, ninth and tenth grades.

It was the summer heading into my Junior year of High School that I saw an audition notice in the paper for the community theatre. I asked my parents if I could audition. They were very hesitant because of the reputation of The Theatre, but they decided to let me give it a try I was ecstatic to have been chosen to be in the production of Damn Yankees. But along came another lesson to be learned from my father. At this time he was commuting to Atlanta for work and I had told him that I would work for him during the summer filling Coke machines all across Atlanta. Well, He told me I could take this part in the play but I would still have to honor my commitment to him. Luckily for me, I guess, the rehearsals were in the evening thus allowing me the time to drive back and forth to Atlanta EVERYDAY!!!!!! The choice after rehearsals was, do I drive tonight or tomorrow morning. I preferred the evening drive and yes being a teenager I tried to make it in record time each trip Luckily I am still alive and only got two tickets. I made the 100 mile trip in 49 minutes one time. I clocked 120 almost the whole way. (disclaimer: Kids I do not recommend this it was very dumb on my part and I am lucky to still be alive) It was a great lesson to learn but I hated my father at the time. My working route made up for some of my anger as I got to fill the coke machines of many a pool site and boy where there sites to be seen at the pool as a teenager.

I guess I got him back for making me clock all of those miles on my frequent driver card. The show nights conflicted with 4 Friday night football games So I had to choose between football and music. I chose music and I can only imagine the grief my father got from all the other dads at my school. Mom and Dad hats off for allowing me to follow my dreams!

My last name has quite a unique story to it. I was walking around a mall one day looking for Christmas gifts and I came across one of those kiosk booths that sit in the middle of the mall that we normally don't pay much attention to because of the wacked out products they usually sell. But this one caught my eye and so I stopped. It was one that looked up the origin of your name. So I entered my last name, Riggins, and low and behold the family motto is Con Vivo Canto (While I live I Sing) That struck me hard because not only did my father and mother sing, my grandfather was music minister and apart of a wonderful quartet. So I can say without doubt music is in my blood.

I have been so fortunate to live my dreams. I look forward to continuing this journey with the help of my fans. I love making music and moving people. I feel that the connection that I get from the audience is priceless. May each of your lives be touched by laughter, joy and most importantly MUSIC.

~Chris Riggins


Denysé said...

Chris is a wonderful, warm, loving guy - as you can see from this fabulous post - and his talent is equalled only by his charm. I hope everyone enjoys meeting this special man, and hearing his personal magic in the breath-taking music and voice....

Check out MySpace, too, for more music....

Thanks for showcasing another great talent for your readers, Lucy! (And Andre, too, of course!)

Love to all,

Colleen Love said...

Hi Chris!

Loved your story! It's amazing what drives and inspires us as artists. Live, Love, Laugh, that is the secret to a life worth living!
Your music is beautiful and on many occasions I have pulled up your MySpace page to have a listen.
Thank you for sharing your talent and gift with us.


Lisa J said...

Laughing never seems to be the issue does it?
Stopping laughing...well that's a different matter entirely - one I relate to utterly!!!! LOL!!

Thank you for taking the time to share your story and thoughts on music with us all. I hope you enjoy yourself for many, many years to come.

Lisa xx

Debra St. John said...

Hi Chris, Thanks for sharing these stories with us today. Southern boys are my favorites!

limecello said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for visiting with us today! What a wonderful post. :) Keep living the dream!

lainey bancroft said...

A Southern boy who loves to laugh, enjoys down home cookin', respects his parent's, is built for football and yet sings classical music with boundless passion???

Pshaw! You must be one of the heroes from Lucy's books. LOL.

Nicely told story, Chris. And great music! Thanks for too Lucy. And thanks to Denyse for pointing me here!


Amy said...

Hi Chris, Thanks for sharing your story with us. I love hearing you got your start in AL. I only live about 25 miles from Birmingham.

Cryna said...

Hi Chris

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, I enjoyed reading it.

Cori said...

I really agree with your idea of laughing ... sometimes life can be so serious !!!! I love the 'sappy' songs too !!!! I really enjoyed reading about your life Chris ... thanks so much for sharing !! :D

Michele L. said...

Hi Chris,

Welcome! What an interesting post about your life! I too love to laugh! When I was young, I had a friend who I loved to hang with, and we laughed until our sides ached! Then I used to work at an architectural firm with a bunch of guys and they loved making me laugh! It is such good exercise for your heart and lungs too!

Nowadays I don't have much laughter since I am married to a serious hubby. Oh well, maybe God will bless me with laughter in a different direction soon I hope! Send some funnies my way would ya?

Thank you so much for sharing your love of singing and laughter! It did me good!

Michele L.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this link with brynsgroup.

kaz said...

Hi Chris

Thankyou so much for taking time to tell us all about you and your singing career so far,

I wish you every success for the future , you have an amazing voice !

PS laughter is the best medcine

Jane said...

Congrats on all your success, Chris.

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