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BILLY BRAGG Tutors Me

Billy is SO TALENTED

I was amazed when I got a part in our school play. Brighton High was doing a production of "Little Shop of Horrors" and I was cast as Audrey. The problem is that I can't sing! I've always been a good actor, and because I'm blonde and the right shape, the drama teacher told me that I would be Audrey.

"But Mr. Lasch, I can't sing!" I protested.

"Erica, you sing perfectly well. I have every confidence in you. If you're unsure, perhaps you could take a few singing lessons," he said as he half-patted my shoulder and half-moved me aside.

I talked to my mom, and she called and made an appointment for me the next afternoon. The singing teacher, Mrs. Morgan, went over some basics with me, gave me some practice songs and sent me on my way. I was going back in two days.

As I walked home, I tried to sing "All Things Bright and Beautiful," because it's my favorite hymn. I was doing okay, but I went through it over and over, trying to get it perfect. At 12 Corners, I went into the bakery to get a cinnamon bun, and kept singing softly to myself.

"You're pretty good, Erica," said a voice behind me. I turned around and saw my friend and neighbor, Billy Bragg. "I was getting my hair cut at Supercuts next door and saw you pop in."

I laughed to myself because Billy is a big star and he could be getting his hair cut at a fancy place in Rochester, but he's so cool that it doesn't matter to him. I told him about getting the part and having to take the singing lessons.

"Let me give you a lift home, and we'll practice on the way home. I sing for a living, you know."

"I know that, you nerd!" and I gave Billy a playful elbow. He smiled.

Billy paid for my cinnamon bun and we climbed into his red VW GTO. I started singing the hymn.

"All things bright and beautifulů" I began.

"Sing it like this: 'ALL things BRIGHT and BYOO-ti-FULL,'" he corrected me.

I tried to imitate him as best I could.

"Then sing 'all CREE-tures GREAT and SMALL' like that," he continued. I followed.

"ALL things WISE and WOND-er-FULL, the LORD God MADE them ALL!" he crooned.

"Billy, that's wonderful! Are you an Episcopalian?"

"Aye, I am," he replied.

"He's perfect!" I thought to myself.

I was feeling so much better that I canceled my second lesson. I practiced super-hard, and I was pretty good by the opening night. Billy went to the opening with my parents and gave me a bouquet of red roses and a kiss on the cheek(!) at the curtain call.