By Norm Cratty, Tenor

I consider myself fortunate to be a member of the Chicago Too Hot Choir.  This will be my 6th year singing in this annual celebration of the legacy and birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  A former co-worker forwarded the audition and rehearsal announcement to me, so I thought, “Why not just try to see if I am good enough to sing in this.”  I have yet to see the show from the audience’s perspective.

At the audition, I tried as best I could to come close to the level of professionalism I was hearing from the other choir members.  I sat through the first run-through of some of the music that first night and thought, “Oh no.  This is entirely too fast and I’m never going to get any of this.  It is beyond my capability to do this.”  I was floored and exhilarated when I received the call that my voice was accepted into the tenor section.  I returned the following Monday, but with not much confidence in my ability; I didn’t believe in myself.  Who was I trying to fool with thinking I could actually pull this off?  At each rehearsal I kept at it and was introduced to more songs in the performance.  It started becoming comfortable to me; the music engrained in my head and heart, and I started feeling accepted by all the other singers.  Words cannot convey what I felt while sitting for the first time at dress rehearsal on the Auditorium Theatre stage.  I thought, “What have I done?  How did I get myself into this?”  Then I started reflecting on all those artists and musicians who set foot on that stage before me.  I was in awe of the entire experience and I soaked it in.  Yet not once was I ever fearful of the experience I was subjecting myself to.
Then something clicked after that first year.  I got it!  I was becoming more comfortable and familiar with the music and being a part of making that incredible sound.  I was getting the beat and rhythm down (it became intuitive).  All that was needed now was to memorize the words.  And memorize I did.  I stuck with it.  After my first year in Too Hot To Handel, Bill and Suzanne felt I was good enough to be placed in the front row.  (One of the requirements of being in the front row is that you must be off-book.  Completely memorized!)  It was such an honor and thrill for me to excel in something that now, in hindsight, felt absolutely right to me and natural.  I was completely comfortable and confident in that position.  I was feeling Too Hot in my bones!  That experience invigorated and ignited my heart and soul and the warmth I experienced from that lasted for several months after.  I was (and am) hooked on being part of Too Hot!

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah

Venue: Auditorium Theatre
Dates: Saturday, January 19 – Sunday, January 20, 2013
Times: Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 3:00 pm
Price: $74-$30
Honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through Handel’s classicalMessiah, the Auditorium welcomes backToo Hot for its 8th year. Too Hot packs the stage with more than 200 musicians, including some famous Chicago jazz favorites. They are joined by soloists Alfreda Burke, Rodrick Dixon and Karen Marie Richardson, as well as the city-wideToo Hot choir to create the jazziest Messiahyet.
Box Office: 50 E. Congress Pkwy. | Groups of 10+ 312.341.2357