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Detra’s story

Part 8

“I thought about what Lucas had said: ‘Let go of all the rules.’ And the very next week I started writing a one-woman show. I called it ‘One Woman’s Journey To Love,’ and it was nothing but love songs, with little pieces of my story in between. I managed to put together a five-piece band. Two of The Three Gentlemen joined me, and Lucas agreed to play the bass. I could only afford to give the musicians $200 each. But at our rehearsal I served a huge crockpot of chicken enchilada soup, and one dozen of my signature peanut butter cookies. We started running through my list of songs, but I had the hardest time giving direction. Because I’d never told a man what to do before. Our drummer said: ‘Detra, this is your band. You have to give us direction.’ So I gave it a try. I started making little suggestions, like: ‘A bit slower here.’ Or: ‘Let’s try this chord instead.’ And the band would play just how I liked it. These five men did something nobody else had ever done for me before. They didn’t hold me down, they carried me. If I ever missed my entrance, they’d circle back, pick me up, and drop me back in again. My favorite part was when they talked about me like I wasn’t there. Sometimes when I did a song perfectly, one of them would say: ‘Just look at her, ya’ll. Ain’t she amazing?’ We held the performance on a Tuesday night at Hill Country. There were 35 or 40 people there. Most of them were my Starbucks customers: the regional manager came, my district manager came. Margaret got there early and did my make-up. I wore something from my old life. It was a black-and-white V-neck top, with shiny dots all over it. I’d gotten it with my employee discount at Dress Barn, and it looked beautiful under the stage lights. When it came time for the show, I told the guys: ‘Just give me one note on the keyboard and we’re going to start.’ Because that’s how I was dropped into New York. The lights came up. And for the first time in my life, I stepped out on a stage meant for me: my band, my show, my songs. I took a deep breath, the band gave me my one note, and I released my voice into New York City. The first song I sang was ‘L-O-V-E,’ by Nat King Cole. And I owned it.”

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