Donna Ulisse

Singer, Songwriter, Bluegrass Poet

#8 Floodlights...Applause!!!

I arrived complete with a brand new Gunny Sak dress, the prettiest thing I think I've ever owned. It was a long, brown and tan lacy dress with puffy sleeves, a scooped neck, a full skirt that touched the floor and a bow in the back. Of course this pretty dress was offset with my wonderful frizzy, tangled hair, my uni- brow that left no doubt of my Italian heritage, my lovely set of braces gleaming from my smile, the fact that I was blind as a bat without my granny-style, gold rimmed glasses and the pencil stick figure that made me look like a light pole. To me I was a princess for the night and feeling like Loretta Lynn, my all time hero. I had chosen one of her songs for the show.

To my young self it looked like 10,000 people stuffed up in the old theater seats as we walked through the room when in all actuality there were more like 200 folks (most of which were somehow related to me as my father had invited ALL of the people he knew) sitting patiently waiting for about ten local acts to entertain them for the evening. I was ushered to the backstage area where I was introduced to lots of musicians and singers. I think my mother was more nervous than I was, her big blue eyes about to bug completely out of her head and a slight paleness surrounding her lips. My dad was his usual self, confident in my talent and pleased as punch to have gotten me a spot on the show. They politely left me backstage because they wanted to see the show from the front. Great...nothing to do now but pace and try to act grown up. I must have been tripping over my gown because the hem displayed a nice rip before I could get on stage (I can't have nothin' nice!)

This is where my memory fails me a bit...I was suddenly onstage and singing and just as though I were possessed by another singer, I threw my head back and wailed. The song was over before I knew it and the applause was thunderous (at least that's the way I remember it). By some miracle I shuffled offstage and back down some rickety steps without falling on my face, a real feat considering the rip in the hem of my beautiful dress.There were lots of pats on my back, hugs and congratulations but that was a blur also because my heart, soul and mind had been hijacked by the performance monster that took me completely over...I WANTED TO BE A STAR. I WANTED TO DO MORE THAN THE ONE SONG. I WANTED TO MOVE MY BEDROOM FURNITURE ONTO THAT WARM, WOODEN STAGE AND MAKE IT HOME. Those thoughts I do remember as if it were just yesterday, and that moment started my mother's nightmare. I was no longer her little girl. I was already making plans to be someone else...