Don’t give up on ya dream yall. Yeah I know, we’ve all heard that statement before. Along wit quotes like anything is possible, or you can do anything you set your mind to. It gets kinda old right? That can’t really be the case, can it? These don’t sound like an accurate depiction of life or reality, I mean this ain’t the movies. If you’re somebody who has come to look at those cliche’s as BS, I can’t really blame you. I admit, I’ve personally had periods of doubt in my own life as well but let me tell somethin. Once I share this Florence Jenkins story with you, your belief in some of them old adages might be awakened because unlike a movie this actually happened lol.
Aiite, so let me set the stage first. The other day I’m chillen at my spot, and watching this history show. The host was this dude who was goin to all these weird museums around the world, giving these crazy backstories on some of the exhibits they had there. It was mad entertaining and interesting so I was pretty much fully engaged the whole time. This last exhibit I saw though had me so weak from laughin but at the same time so amazed I had to write about it. It was about a women named Florence Foster Jenkins, who some have said was the worst singer to ever walk the face of the earth.
Now I know we all exaggerate a little when we describe things. Like when I call my little bro space-head as if his heads so big he could fit the solar system in it. See, right there I’m just exaggerating. But when it comes to Florence Jenkins I’m not. Her singing skills were nil and her voice was straight up hammered. What makes this story so good though is that it didn’t just end there. Most people who aren’t good enough to do something usually quit, or fail, but Florence turned that idea on its head. She was successful not because she was good at being good, but that she was good at being bad.
So, her story goes somethin like this. Florence was born into a wealthy family. She had musical aspirations growing up but her father wasn’t supportive so she didn’t pursue it at that time and just went on with her very privileged life. A failed marriage along the way and complicated relationship or two later Florence decided to finally go for it. She was in her 70’s when she started recording her first records in a studio in Manhattan. She held invite only recitals in lavish Hotels like the Ritz Carlton and the Waldorf Astoria, where the social elites of the day would all pile in to witness her terrible performances considering them to be must see T.V. She developed a cult like following, and even had a show at Carnegie Hall that she sold out in just 2 hours! Florence gave the people who came to her event’s something they had never seen or heard before ever. This is why they came to them. It was a spectacle!
Bill Schuman (an acclaimed voice teacher) when asked about whether or not Florence knew how awful her singing was said “She was too smart…there’s no way she could have not known…” After all, Florence was also a music director too and helped a number of young talented singers one being Louise Frances Bickford who later became Schuman’s teacher. Schuman himself went on to produce several big- time award winning proteges, and says he owes his success to Florence Jenkins because without her support of Bickford there would be no him! So, in a way after all of the jokes it looks like Florence Jenkins had the last laugh.
I hope yall see why this story was so amazing to me. Florence Jenkins was not talented at all but she had passion and charisma. She didn’t let the laughs stop her, but instead kept her dream alive. Those she helped went on to have amazing careers, and became teachers of future legends. This is the impact a dream can have if you let it live. Now imagine what may not happen if you let yours die.