SOUNDS FROM THE UNDERGROUND
I couldn’t stop craning my neck, looking around in amazement. We are sitting here, both of us in jet black tuxedos and slicked back hair. We seemed to be glowing, illuminating with pride at what we have accomplished in the past year and a half. This has grown way beyond our expectations. I never believed for a second that a passing thought on my way home from work would become a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year. The result of this didn’t matter. This has already been a big win for us.
The theater turns into a thundering coliseum as Jay-Z and Beyonce glide to podium.
Their smiles glisten from the stage lights. They bow and mouth an obligatory Thank You to the crowd and get down to business.
Jay-Z rips open the envelope and says, And the winner, for ‘Best Album of Year’ goes to…. He pauses. They look at each other. And then they look at me. SOUNDS FROM THE UNDERGROUND! they scream together.
We can’t move. I see people standing and clapping around me. I feel the slaps of congratulations on my back. I look over at Steamboat and our collective fog begins to rise.
We’ve just won album of the year!
We get our sea legs back and make our way to the stage. My mouth is open and without words as Beyonce hands me the small golden phonograph. They glide back out the way the came, hand in hand again. I look over at Steamboat and nod. I remembered the promise. If we win I do the ‘ceptance speech, he said. That was fine with me.
Steamboat moves to the center of podium and clears his throat. I know what he’s going to say. He will tell the story of how I got a bunch of musicians who scrape out nickels and dimes playing in the New York City Subway system together to make this. How there’s something for everyone on this album. Gospel from the Jefferson family. Blues from Steamboat and the Backwater Boys. Classic violin from Bianca Van Pelt. He’s going to let everyone know that because of their generosity and support, a lot of musicians and their families are able to eat every day. That this album is a testament not only to the power of music, but the positive, life-changing effects in can have on so many people.
Steamboat smiles and thanks the audience as he waves his hands, trying to get some control over the crowd. I smile back, then notice some stirring in the shadows of the orchestra pit below me. The conductor is tapping the stand in front of him. I glare at him, but he doesn’t notice me. We must have taken too long to get to the stage. They can’t cut us off. We never dreamed of being here, but now that we are, Steamboat is going to have his moment in the sun.
I start to move towards the orchestra pit when a shadow moves towards the conductor. Jay-Z taps the Conductor on the shoulder. The Conductor turns and steps back, shocked from his surprise visitor. Jay-Z gently reached out and took the baton from the conductor’s hand. He folded his arms and nodded at me, smiling. Steamboat will have his moment.