On the rather long list of people I am in love with is Jennifer Nettles. I fell for her totally and completely the first time I saw her on PBS. I said to my partner, “Come see! This woman is made of joy!”
I don’t even really like country music and I watched the whole program, because Nettles’ sense of fun was so infectious. I hadn’t ever seen a musician do what she did–and it filled the living room, the way it must have filled the auditorium.
This was, of course, before Sugarland and Nettles made it big. I’ve kept half an eye on her, to see if she would be changed by fame. Sometimes I thought her voice sounded kind of nasal. I thought there was too much twang. But I never got tired of watching her.
So yesterday, when I was zoning out of everything I should have been doing and watching Internet tv, Hulu gave me the option to watch Duets, and I was like, what the hell. I haven’t wanted to watch the show, mind you. Like, all we need is more reality tv.
I was wrong. Kelly Clarkson remains completely herself and very spontaneous in what she says, which is great. But Jennifer Nettles–it’s truly amazing to watch her work a duet. She is entirely generous in the arrangement (she sings much less than her contestants), and in performance she calibrates her voice so she never overpowers her partner. The episode I watched had two incredibly moving ballads (both by the guys working with her), and she was so genuinely kind to them, so empowering, I was like, Is this even for real? I mean, ON TELEVISION, someone is truly partnering someone else?
Kelly Clarkson is also very empowering BTW, but the two male coaches (John Legend and Robin something or other) sometimes even sing more than their contestants! But it’s the way Jennifer Nettles connects, the way she joins with her mentees, that’s so outstanding. I have to ask, Does she have Meisner training?
Regardless, she has remained herself, relatively ego-free for the business she’s in, feet on the ground, available to the people around her…at least that’s how it looks.
In other words, it can be done.
Thank you, Jennifer Nettles, for exemplifying grace. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? The most awake Buddhist monks are joyful. The more joy, the more depth and compassion. (And, BTW, the woman can really sing…so clear when she’s not singing country.)
Anyhow, in my own quest for grace, it’s probably a good thing that I gave up wearing black and being “Ms. Dark Side,” all sharp and sardonic at, what? 22?