So, my wife has an amazing singing voice.* It is soaring, majestic, and powerful. It ascends to dizzying heights and effortlessly glides there like an eagle in full flight. Hearing it for the first time is as sudden and breathtaking as coming around the bend and catching your first glimpse of the Rocky mountains on a cross-country drive. Even at half volume it is rich, full, and expansive; at full volume it is a force of nature – water falling over the cliffs at Niagara.

*I mean “amazing” in the true sense of the word. As in, Jennifer’s voice will leave you in slack-jawed amazement, not as in, you got an amazing deal at Kohl’s or it’s amazing that they turned a Dorito into a taco or whatever. Real, actual John-Newton-style “amazing.”

The summer after we married, Jennifer decided to try out for the Houston Symphony Orchestra Chorus. She was very nervous about it; she hadn’t sung in a setting like that for a couple of years and wasn’t sure if she still had it.

“Do you think it’s a good idea to try out? Do you think I’ll make it?,” she asked me a number of times. Not to disrespect the Houston Symphony Chorus, but this was like Tom Hanks asking if he should try out for the community theater’s production of Our Town.

“Are you serious?” I would answer. “Of course you’ll make it.”

Not that anyone could just show up and join. She was auditioning to sing with the symphony orchestra of the fourth-largest city in the United States. They did ask those auditioning to prepare a piece to sing at the audition, so, to be fair, some nerves were probably justified for even a very talented singer.

But this was Jennifer, and I was adamant. “Have you heard yourself sing? Have you seen how other people respond when you sing? You will make it in the chorus.”

The day of the audition, Jennifer was beside herself. I waited with her in the hallway outside the room where the auditions were being conducted. We chatted up a couple of the other people waiting. We were early enough that we saw a couple of the other singers go in for their auditions and heard the muffled sounds of their singing through the wall. Each auditioner looked nervous as he or she went in and came out with an expression of relief mixed with worry.

Finally, it was Jennifer’s turn. Shortly after she went in and the door closed behind her, the piano began playing. And Jennifer sang.

When the other auditioners sang, you could barely them from the other room. With Jennifer, it sounded like she was still in the same room with us. Rich, vibrant Italian words bounded joyfully through the walls and into the hallway where the next few singers waited.

And those poor waiting singers! Upon hearing Jennifer’s voice, the lady seated across from me turned pale and looked like she was on the verge of crying. A man seated next to her started swearing under his breath. Another man seated further down the hall simply got up and left. I resisted the urge to laugh out loud. We all knew that the chorus had found a new first soprano. After the audition, Jennifer remained concerned. She was sure that she had missed some notes, that she wasn’t as precise as she needed to be. I tried to reassure her, “Stop being crazy for a second. Do you think anyone cares if you missed a few notes? It’s like this: These auditions are like pitchers trying out for a baseball team. Everyone else came in throwing about 80 miles an hour, and you just showed up with a 100 mile an hour fastball. They aren’t concerned if you were a little flat on a high C, they’re too busy picking their jaws up off the floor.”

Jennifer made the chorus.