"A wounded bird cannot sing:" Remembering Jerry Hadley


Tenor Jerry Hadley died a year ago today.  He was a gifted singer, but towards the end of his life he struggled with a number of vocal and personal problems. 

In re-reading an obituary in the Los Angeles Times, I was inspired by several quotes of Jerry from previous interviews.

On the beginning of his career:

I had to let go of a tremendous amount of fear. I had to let go of a tremendous amount of physical tension that was brought on by wanting to do it [sing] so much. I had to let go of the feeling that I had to prove myself all the time.
(Florida’s Orlando Sentinel, 1999)


On taking a break from singing several years ago to recover from the breakup of his marriage:

A wounded bird cannot sing. It was tough. It was emotionally distressing, and it goes straight to the throat. So I took some time off and sat in the quiet for a while.

I never really understood how inseparable was the journey of the spirit and the journey of singing and making music. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t see a way forward. But I came out on the other side of it with a deeper appreciation of what a great gift and great opportunities God has given me.
(Australia’s Courier-Mail, 2007)

What strikes me most is Jerry’s understanding that singing is as much about soul as it is sound, and musical growth requites as much self-awareness as it does talent and technique.