BOSTON (CBS) – A year concludes, voices fade. With a new chapter unfolding here in the chill of January, we spend short moments reflecting on those voices lost to us, a somewhat sad annual ritual.
Here is a slightly different take on the story of voices, two of whom we thought would never resonate again.
Nearly a year ago to the day, a young hardworking politician is doing what young hardworking politicians do. She is in her home district meeting constituents, listening to their concerns, offering an ear, a hug or a handshake. From all accounts, she is well respected and actually liked by many voters in her district, a rarity today. It is a warm sunny morning in Tuscan and all seems well, when an insane gunman savagely attacks a small crowd of innocent, well meaning citizens just out greeting a congresswoman, mingling, shopping. We lose six exquisite souls that day, young and not so young. None of them deserve their fate. We nearly lose the congresswoman in question, Gabrielle Giffords. As the world knows seconds after the incident, she is seriously wounded, shot at point blank range and given a slim chance of survival, let alone any type of reasonable recovery. Gabby Giffords is adored by her co-workers, family and so many in her community. Along with the six innocent folks there for the congresswoman’s meet-and-greet, Gabby’s voice is apparently silenced that day, unfairly stolen during an act of pure evil that leaves a nation stunned.
In 2011, we are witness to another expressive voice that sparkles briefly before disappearing in obscurity. The voice belongs to homeless beggar Ted Williams. You remember him. The YouTube sensation who while asking for a handout on a busy street corner, exhibits what we voice-over artists refer to as the V.O.G. (Voice of God) a most valuable skill set. Ted is the former radio jock with magnificent pipes who winds up on the wrong side of more than just that street, turns to drugs that turns his career and home life to dust. But at his lowest point living on the streets, he still has that voice. The Internet makes him a sensation and next thing you know, major advertisers and sports teams are lavishing Ted with money and gifts to announce their products. For a time, he rises to the occasion, delivering stunning vocal reads while being touted as a superstar. But the spotlight burns too bright too quickly. Ted’s downfall isn’t the result of a bullet; he falls out of step and crashes as so many do in the flash of celebrity. He disappears back into addiction and heartache, that beautiful voice now a fading memory.
As we have come to know one year later, the woman struck down by a madman’s bullet waged a dramatic uphill climb to regain at least some of the voice thought lost. She has used it to comfort the families of the other victims while inspiring a nation. With the aid of her medical angels, a devoted husband and family and incredible determination Congresswoman Giffords in her recovery reminds us that a voice put upon by violence can rise to be heard again. And, that faith is a powerful ingredient, intangible as it appears, to healing.
What you may not be aware of here at the start of the New Year is that Ted Williams too has fought the good fight in regaining his voice. Despite many stumbles on the way to sobriety, with the help of his rehab angels and a few willing to give him a second and third chance, he is now working steadily, reunited with family and once again using that golden announcer’s voice to sell macaroni and cheese and more. Ted is off the streets, making a living and loving life again, all the while exercising those golden vocal chords to tell everyone he meets how wonderful it is to be alive again.
Two voices nearly silenced…two voices out of millions worth a listen.
Maybe if more of us used our voices and spoke the things in our hearts that so often are left unsaid, we’d feel better about a lot of things.