I used to occasionally go to a hole-in-the-wall piano bar in the West Village called Rose’s Turn. Singers of all stripes — and with a wide range of quality of "pipes" — would offer up their best renditions of "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Cry Me a River" and everything in between. One night I was treated to the vocal stylings (really, the vocal kick-assings) of someone named Terri White. She had a worldly-wise, hardscrabble edge that you just can’t get at an average open mic night, and she had a mean way with a tambourine. She knew how to make her audience soak up her joy and reflect it right back to her, magnifying and multiplying it until the whole room was one giant elated crescendo.
Not just an article: a fairy tale come true.
As it turns out, Terri’s sadder-but-wiser aura was no act: she’s hit rock bottom and then some. Last year at this time, she was homeless, and now? Well, now she’s wowing the crowd in Finian’s Rainbow on Broadway and making plans for a commitment ceremony. Good times and bum times — she’s seen them all, and my dear, she’s still here.
I could say more, but it’s best to refer you to the article again (and the video that accompanies it — you have to hear Terri sing!). It’s not just a great story; it’s a very well-written story. If Terri’s tale is a testament to both human will and human kindness, then the writing of it is a shining example of both careful reporting and caring about your subject.
The daughter of traveling performers, Ms. White has been performing in musicals since she was 8, and the language of the medium infects her life narrative.
That’s just plain good. What’s more, the lesbian "angle" is both incidental and integral to the article. That’s probably the best way to handle anything gay, and it’s not easy to achieve. (And bonus: we’re talking about lesbians of a certain age! That’s, like, the polka-dot unicorn of feature topics.)
Best wishes to you, Terri. Maybe it was Rose’s Turn once, but it’s your turn now. And thank you, Susan Dominus of the NYT, for reminding us all to keep on keeping on, preferably with a song on our lips and a tambourine at our hips. There’s gold at the end of that rainbow — even a cynic like me can see it shimmering.