As a teen, FOF Sheri Nadelman wished she could become a rock star. Most people would say, “dream on.” She did, and, in her 50s, turned that dream into a rockin’ reality.
[Editor’s note: The essay below, by FOF Sheri Nadelman, is part of a series of personal blogs from our readers. Have your own story to tell? Email your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Before the days of American Idol and YouTube, there was little hope that I, a chubby-but-nice-Jewish-girl-from-Brooklyn, would make it as a singer. My dad wanted me to go to college, and my mom wanted me to marry a doctor. My dream was to become a rock star.
When I was 12, my dad got me a guitar, which I learned to play by ear. I sang for anyone who would listen. For the longest time I thought my middle name was “shut up.” No one ever took me seriously, but the truth is that I had a good voice.
At age 19, I mustered up the courage to sing for renowned vocal coach Marty Lawrence, a close family friend. “You’ve definitely got something,” he said–in true Simon Cowell fashion. I started lessons, which eventually lead to a recording contract. The financing fell through, and the album never came to fruition. I was devastated.
I was faced with the choice of pursuing my music career or marrying my boyfriend. I could not do both because his med school training would require us to move frequently–not an ideal situation for a musician trying to make it big.
We married and moved to Hawaii and started a family. When I was three months pregnant, my mom died of a stroke–she was only 46. My daughter was born six months later.
Years later, we settled in Florida and tragedy struck once again, I lost both my dad and my brother. My dad lost a bitter battle to emphysema. My brother died at the age of 40 after complications from gastric bypass surgery. Adding to my grief was the demise of my marriage. It was such an emotional roller coaster, I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the guitar for years.
At 45, I got divorced–I felt unhappy and unfulfilled. My daughter was getting ready to leave for college, and I worried I’d miss her terribly. A girlfriend and my daughter encouraged me to do an open mic night. I got involved in the local music scene and began performing solo at first and then with other musicians in an acoustic band. I never thought I’d marry again, but later that same year, I was swept away by a businessman with an extensive background in music. He believed in me like no one had before.
At 53 years old, when most women my age are winding down, I am just beginning! I am in the midst of recording my long overdue solo album. I sing lead and play guitar in a popular Tampa Bay area cover band called soulRcoaster. Not only do I get to live my dream–singing everything from Etta James to Lady GaGa–I get to share it with my husband, who is now our soundman! “You can hear Sheri’s passion captured in every single note she sings,” Bud Snyder, a sound engineer for the Allman Brothers, once told me. I guess I’m just a late bloomer.