A Beacon of Light: A Class of 2023 Senior Essay

By Aspen Lillywhite

It’s probably not the most glamorous way to start a letter. But I am not the girl you see on stage. I have insecurities that have shoved me down one too many times. But on the stage I become a beacon of light. I become everything a little girl wants to be. I feel powerful and with the choir I am unstoppable.

My mother always said I was singing before I could talk. Growing up in a piano studio could be thanks to that. But it was a given that junior high choir and pointers from my mother’s collaborators were not enough. I needed to strive higher. The five years I have spent in SGC have given me the opportunity to have a stronger voice, stronger theory skills, and stronger knowledge I never thought I could have.

I was diagnosed with chronic tonsillitis after the first quarter of my senior year. The news was like being hit by a truck.

I remember having a sore throat through the holiday concert season. I jot it up to me overusing my voice. I never knew it was a condition that could cause pneumonia, or worse, lymphoma.

I couldn’t speak the first week post surgery. Even whispering gave me unbearable pain. Soon my voice resembled a sea lion’s more than a soprano’s. I had to relearn to swallow, to talk, and sadly, I had to relearn to sing.

Through my recovery I would look back on the achievements I made leading up to my surgery. Tour, Carmina, the Earthmakers collab. I could just barely squeak out a few notes while humming to recordings. It was humiliating to myself that I didn’t have the agility my voice once had. I didn’t believe I could be a vocal major. I didn’t feel good enough for the choir anymore. I was so close to quitting. But I was thinking foolishly.

For the five years I have been a part of Seattle Girls Choir, it has been my family away from family. I have so many sisters that would have been disappointed if I gave up then. I returned to my daily routine by the 3rd week, but it wasn’t easy. I knew I wasn’t the anchor of sound I use to be, but I was welcomed back to open arms.

Even today I still struggle to sing without my voice choking up on me. But there are so many powerful musicians that have strived to have my back during this process. They are my anchor. They always have been.

It is difficult for me to leave this organization behind because nothing can live up to it. Not just musically. Within this community is magic. There is magic in the scribbled margins of my music that I will forever hold onto. Inside jokes, doodles, and conversations I can cherish with memory and gratefulness. I am forever in debt to the Seattle Girls Choir for the joy they have brought me.