The Healing Power of Karaoke, Part II

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This two-part article was written by Anna David and comes from her blog After Party Chat. A best-selling author and active participant in the health and addiction media circuit, Anna writes about her moving experience with karaoke and it's critical role in her road to sobriety.

Click here to read Part I.

I did not expect karaoke to factor into my sobriety. But I went to rehab with a delightful guy named Justin, and when I stopped by his sober living house one day after we’d both left rehab, telling him I was looking for new activities to embrace now that I didn’t have drinking and drugging taking up all my free time, he suggested we go “lay down some tracks” at a nearby karaoke place he’d found.

And lay down some tracks we did – that day and regularly for a while after that. We’d go to this karaoke place in West LA, which then rented rooms during the day for a mere $3 an hour, and take turns singing our little newly sober hearts out. We’d tape record and listen to our efforts, then try the same songs again the next time. We took our devotion to karaoke quite seriously.

While Justin had (and still has) a seriously lovely voice, my own still warbled and my tone could best be described as deaf. Still, it didn’t matter. We sang and sang and sang, playing KJ to our own performances that only we could hear.

A New Way to Escape

One day, a few months into my sobriety when I was working at a magazine for an extremely difficult boss, I felt overwhelmed. I thought about drinking because I simply didn’t know how to handle the stress of this impossible boss sober.

But then I thought about karaoke and how free and happy I felt when I did it in that private room with Justin. Justin wasn’t available. But instead of drinking, I told my boss I’d be gone for an hour, drove over to that karaoke place, got my own private room and sang away my stress.

When I returned to the office, I was able to smile for one of the first times at that extremely difficult boss. And when I turned a year sober and wanted to throw some sort of a party to honor it, it was immediately obvious what kind of party it should be.

Singing to Stay Sober

I don’t know what’s become of my old party friend whose voice would have made Stevie Wonders proud. I think my heart would break wide open if I really thought about all of the people who were destroying their lives with me back when I was.

While I don’t have bindles of cocaine to distract me from hard thoughts like that anymore, I do have other ways. Like living my life – a life that still includes karaoke. Oh, yes.

Not only have I found some new karaoke-loving friends (Justin moved back to Georgia, alas) but I actually took voice lessons last year to improve my attempts. (If you are in LA and want to improve your voice, look no further than my teacher Brianna; if she could help me, she can help anyone.)

Now I get to play KJ. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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