Did you ever watch American Idol so intensely that during the finale you made a sign for your favorite and stood on an old stool screaming while Ryan Seacrest announced the winner to only then break said stool, almost breaking your femur in half? No? Not fully relatable? Oh okay, well you're watching it wrong.
Every season of American Idol, I fell head over heels in love with one of the contestants and thought they were the most legendary human beings to walk the earth. One of these being Jen Hirsh, season 11. I remember rioting with a pitch fork and running through the streets of Laguna Niguel with a machete when she went home without winning every season (past, present, and future). I honestly thought it was a joke. I was livid. The thought that I'd never hear her sing again made me believe American Idol was a monster.
2 years later (2014), now with the knowledge that a good friend of mine knew her very well, I attended that friends wedding only to see Jen Hirsh walk down the aisle as one of her bridesmaids. We all stood, ready to watch the bride make her first steps to her husband, and boom. Jen starts singing. Boom, part two. I start weeping. The sight, sound; all things perfect. I prepared myself to potentially meet her later that evening as any 19 year old would: copious amounts of white wine. So when it came time to introduce myself, I would be my most attractive, sane, intelligent-self. We met on the dance floor. The end.
New York Part II:
Nothing is more glorious than being at a live show shooting photos for one of your favorite artists, weaving through the crowd of listeners, only to hear bits and pieces of conversation like, "She's so good. Wow" or "I'm obsessed with her voice" or "This is amazing". All I wanted to do was put my camera down and run through the crowd high-fiving people like, "Dude, RIGHT?!" We were all fans. Jen is now part of a band called MONOGEM, and if you don't look them up right now and listen, you just guaranteed yourself a spot on my *list*.
You'd think after hearing the same songs on repeat throughout the day, one would grow weary of hearing them again. But knowing the set list, I was giddy for each song to start. Dancing and singing along while I photographed like a happy little idiot. I realize I'm revealing the fact that I'm a giant nerd and will never be "cool" about working favorite musicians of mine, but who the hell cares. I'm not gonna pretend I'm too cool for anything, ever. If you think you're too cool for stuff, I think you're dumb. Don't be that.
Let me tell you a little bit about this lady right quick: Not only does she have the most unbelievable voice in the world, she's incredibly genuine and authentic, funny, and cares about her loved ones immensely. Never mind the fact that I was close to a stranger, she opened her arms to giving me this opportunity of a lifetime ever-so-graciously. She also did 7 shows in two days. Are you aware of the fact that some people can't even talk for more than an hour without being tired? Try SINGING for 40+ minutes, 7 times, in less than 48 hours. No really, go try it. Now try doing it flawlessly. Jen might roll her eyes at the fact that I referenced her singing as flawless, but I mean it. I'm not being nice, either. Flawless doesn't mean every note was pitch perfect, it means it didn't need to be. It means that the live version hits your eardrums like honey, sweeter than the recorded track you're used to. It means you leave the show drooling.
We traveled around New York with her keyboard player (who is INSANE and legendary at every piece of music he touches). After the day was over, (1am/2am), we would either go to another show or find our stomachs in pain from laughter. Whether it was conversing in our most obnoxious NY accents, me flooding the bathroom because I didn't know how to properly shower, or soaking in the sweet aroma of our bum-piss elevator, every moment of this experience was pure bliss. If that's what living my dream looks like, sign me up for the next one. For all of them, actually. I'm forever and ever grateful for this opportunity, for the talent and masterpiece of a person that is Jen Hirsh-Melvin, for music, and for dreams coming to life.
Here, enough of me talking, just go to MONOGEM.com and see for yourself. I freakin dare you.
Cheers, Brothers & Sisters. XOXO
(Shoutout to Jared Donnelly for calling me out because I hadn't written this yet. Thank you for reading & you rule.)