A few months ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the podcast, The Wander Mom Diaries, hosted by Mandie Kramer. The theme of the podcast centres around self-care, overcoming adversities, and empowering women and, my story and messaging certainly dives into all three! During my conversation with Mandie, I allowed myself to become vulnerable as I began to share my personal story of how I had to overcome one major challenge in my life, after another, including being a suicide survivor, the challenges of being a single mum whilst having a hectic schedule as professional in the music industry and how I was silenced by my culture and my community. Eventually I discovered I could stand up and use my voice in life, and It is my intention to release this episode as I truly want to inspire other women, that no matter where they are at, no matter what adversities, they are having to deal with, there is a way to live your best, most authentic life each and every day and please know you are beautiful just as you are. You are stronger than what you think. I hope you find something within this episode that will empower you to follow your dreams and embrace the woman that you are.
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In this episode
01:16 – Introducing this episode with Mandie Kramer
03:22 – Mandie’s introduction from our episode on The Wander Moms Podcast
12:44 – My early career background
14:32 – Loosing my first husband
18:00 – Struggling with Mental health and developing bulimia
20:06 – Meeting my second husband
22:38 – What helped her act to step up and leave her environment?
24:16 – My advice for other mothers
29:12 – Opportunities for moms looking for a singing career
NEW CCM BOOK
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith is excited to announce the release of her new book “Singing Contemporary Commercial Music Styles: A Pedagogical Framework” published by Compton Publications UK. Marisa offers this book as a starting point and as CCM markets continue to evolve, she encourages that we, as a voice community, continue to evolve, debate and communally add to this framework.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 00:00
Hi it’s Marisa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. In these episodes, our brilliant lineup of guests will include healthcare practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialized fields to empower you to live your best life. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. It’s time now to share your gift with others develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, it’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 01:16
A few months ago, I had the great pleasure of being interviewed on the podcast wander mom diaries, hosted by Mandie Kramer, the theme of her podcast centers around self care, overcoming adversities, and empowering women. And my story, and messaging certainly dives into all these three. During my conversation with Mandie, I allowed myself to become vulnerable. As I began to share my personal story of how I had to overcome one major adversity in my life after another, including being a suicide survivor. The challenges of being a single mom whilst having a hectic schedule as a professional in the music industry, and how I was silenced by my culture, as well as my community. Eventually, I discovered I could stand up and use my voice in life. And it is my intention to release this episode. As I truly want to inspire other women. No matter what adversities they are having to deal with. There is a way to live your best life. Discover your most authentic self, and live your life being true to you each and every day. Most importantly, you are stronger than what you think. I do hope you find something within this episode that will empower you and embrace the woman that you are in the here and the now. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.
Mandie Kramer 03:22
During this conversation, you’ll hear Dr. Marisa Lee Naismith. Incredible story of overcoming one challenge after another in here empowering messages about self care and finding your voice. Marisa grew up in Australia and has been in the music industry as a singer from her early teens, and is now a singing coach and music industry mentor. Marisa also fosters singing communities around the world. So my original intent was to discuss that. But as she kept sharing her story, I ended up scrapping all the questions I originally planned and just went with the flow of the conversation, and I think the result is truly impactful. I hope you enjoy this moving conversation with Marisa.
Mandie Kramer 04:10
Hello, and welcome to the Wander Mom Diaries Podcast. In this show. A wander mom is defined as a woman juggling all the things but still has the desire to stay ambitious and find adventure in life. No matter what obstacles come her way. You will hear interviews that focus on adventures you can do with your family, along with episodes packed with helpful advice to hopefully make life a little easier. Whether you are looking for a simple getaway to a nearby park or a trip around the world. This podcast is here to help support and guide you to where you want to go and who you want to be. I’m your host Mandie Kramer and I’m so glad you’re here. I have to visit Australia is definitely on my on my list of places to travel. And, and yeah, I guess in speaking of travel, that’s kind of like what the podcast is framed around. I started it because I love traveling, I’ve lived in different countries. And after becoming a mother, you kind of lose yourself. And you, you want to try and get some of what you were back and, and I’ve just had many conversations with other fellow mom friends and we all had a very similar feeling. So this, this podcast is a bunch of different topics and I’m super excited to talk about music with you, because I just it’s something that I am not a singer, I like to sing for fun. I sing lullabies or something, but and definitely not something I would do publicly. But it doesn’t mean that other moms, you know, have been having this passion that you know, that they just never pursued or maybe they would they started to and they stopped because they became a mother. Or there’s just a lot of like struggles that come with this new responsibility, this new role in life. And so I’d love to like unpack that and talk with that. Talk about that with you. I’m super curious about the music industry. So why don’t we start with you again, uh, giving an introduction, I your name and a little bit of background about you and your family and where where you’re from?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 05:03
Okay, well, I’m, I will use my official title because I don’t have the opportunity to do that very often. So I’m Dr. Marisa Lee Naismith. So I’m not a medical doctor, I actually have a PhD, which I obtained in my late 50s. So never had, yeah, I never had formal education after leaving high school. I always wanted to go to university and I started as a postgraduate student, I actually don’t have a bachelor in anything, but I have a PhD. And that is in the training of singers who want to learn popular music styles. So it’s everything outside of classical music. And I’ll talk a little bit about that. So I grew up in Melbourne. I was born to post war migrants, my parents came here from Italy, trying to pursue a better life for themselves, they wanted to do better. And they wanted to be in a place where they could provide opportunity for their children. My brother came with my mom. Two years after my dad arrived, he had to save the money for their fare, which was back then they used to come out on cruise lines, and it would take five to six weeks to come out. But I was born two years, I think after they been living here. In short, my childhood was very lonely. My parents were very suspicious that was a brand new country for them. They were the victims of racial sledging, there was a big influx of migrants back in the early 50s, here in Australia as it was in the US, because the option back then was either you go to the US or you come to Australia, and they decided that this is where they would come to. And because of that suspicion, and that fear of the unknown, my childhood was rather lonely. So I wasn’t allowed to go out and play with other children. I was kept indoors, I was surrounded by my parents and my brother, pretty much 24/7. But it’s weird in life, how out of every negative situation comes a positive one. And that’s when I discovered my joy of singing. And as a child, too, I was very I was silenced. Children was seen and not heard, I didn’t have a voice as a child. And so my brother used to used to belong to her back then a record club. So every month, a new LP would arrive on our doorstep. And this is back in the 60s. And it would be either like The Beatles, The Who The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, all this rock music and I would lock all the doors, close all the windows, and lock myself in a room with this music and literally sing at the top of my lungs for hours on end and pretend I was performing to 1000s of people. And that was my escape. And that’s where my joy of music started. And then I started working professionally as a singer at the age of 15. And I went to a Catholic like school, they were nuns at the school. And I would go to school Monday to Friday. And I was working probably about four or five nights a week in a band. And no one knew about it. I was scared that the nuns would tell me off that they would get angry if I didn’t get good marks at school. So I would just go and do my thing. So I claimed to be the original Hannah Montana. I was living this double life. I had my school girl life, and then I was an entertainer at night times
Mandie Kramer 09:21
And nobody knows? So you kept it a secret?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 09:23
Mandie Kramer 09:25
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 09:25
I did keep it a secret. And no one knew I could sing till it was I was in my final year of high school and they were auditioning for the school musical. I’d never sung in the choir. Because the nuns told me I was too loud, because you can imagine I was sick.
Mandie Kramer 09:44
I was just gonna ask why.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 09:46
Yeah, because they said I was too loud. My voice didn’t blend in with the other singers who had these angelic voices. Because I at 15, I was sounding like Tina Turner, you know, I was not this pretty little angelic singer. And so then when I audition for the school musical, I got the lead role. But everyone was shocked when they heard me audition, because no one knew I could sing. I’d kept that part of my life. So quiet. And it was pretty much unacceptable as well, back in the day, as a young woman growing up in the 60s in the 70s. You were destined to be either a secretary typist in a typing Paul, a hairdresser, a nurse, a school teacher, you were not going to be an entertainer. You You were lucky to even be allowed to go to university. It was it was a privilege to go to university. And it’s when you think about it, it’s not that long ago.
Mandie Kramer 10:53
No, it’s really not so sad how things were not, not too long ago.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 10:57
Yeah. So part of that probably was not the shame that I had this other life. But it was just something that I chose not to reveal to others, a couple of my school friends knew, but it was not known with the with the teachers. And the weird thing about that is that I was earning more money than them. I was making all this money. And I was I had this fully fledged career, and no one knew about it.
Mandie Kramer 11:01
That’s awesome, though.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 11:28
Mm hmm. And I was in a band. And there were four other members. So they’re all male. They’re way older than me. The next oldest to me was, he was 23. He was the guitarist, and at 19, I ended up marrying him. And I think part of that, when I reflect back now is because I promptly wanted to escape that life that I had in the Italian culture, it was not, you know, it was it was fairly acceptable that a woman would get married quite young, and that they would become a housewife or mom, not have a career. But I kept performing for me. I just needed to get out of that home environment that I was in. And then at 20, I was I actually was barefoot and pregnant, and Italian young mom with my first child. And she was born a week after my 21st birthday. And I’ve never been around young babies. And he was here I was a young mom and I was so isolated. I did take time out from my performance career. I stopped performing when she was when I was about eight months pregnant. So I chose to move away from that career for a short time. And then I went back to it, probably when she was about six to eight, or maybe eight weeks old, so I didn’t have a huge time away. But I went back to it fairly early, I had a good support group of Italian grandmothers and Auntie’s that. Were happy to look after her when I went to work and my husband continued to work as well. Then, tragically, my first husband committed suicide when I was 26 years old. And so we we’d been married for about seven years. And you know, it’s suicide is something that you don’t get over. If you’re a survivor of suicide. It is something that you don’t get over. You live with that for the rest of your life. And you know, you go through through so many different emotions. First up its disbelief. And I believe I actually went into shock, I didn’t have a period for five years, my whole body shut down for five years. So all of a sudden I was, was in this tragic situation, this terribly sad situation that I didn’t know how to deal with. There was no help back in the time, this is 1985 There was no help back then, no one really understood suicide. No one really understood mental health disorders. And when I look back, I believe my husband, at the time was bipolar. He had different personalities that would appear at different times. And me being so young, I didn’t understand either. So he would disengage and not talk to me for a week, then all of a sudden, everything would be fine. I never knew who I was going to wake up to every morning. But as I said, I was a young woman in that culture, your Catholic family, it was you didn’t leave anybody, no one got divorced. There was a lot of shame around divorce back then, especially given that I was an entertainer, that would have just been more humiliation for the family. So then I became mom and dad to my daughter. The other thing at the time, because people didn’t understand suicide, people had to blame somebody, no one just committed suicide because they were depressed back then they believed that you were driven to it. So everyone started to blame me. Gosh, I was the obvious choice. 26 years old, I was an entertainer, I was a young mom, I just lost my husband, who I was completely dependent on, I had never signed a cheque I didn’t know how to do the banking, he totally controlled every aspect of our lives, then all of a sudden, I had to take care of everything, including our child and deal with the circumstance, deal with the blame, deal with the shaming become mom and dad. And it was really overwhelming. It was a very, very, I can’t I don’t even know how I got through it. Other than I believe I was in shock. And I just went through the motions every day, then I lost my father. And that was a real tragedy for me as well, because I felt my dad was the only person who loved me unconditionally. He always took care of me because my mother couldn’t. And when I lost him, I felt like I’d lost everything. You know, that was like the final straw. And I had to be brave and I had to be strong for my daughter. Just life as usual. Pretend that I was fine put on my big girl pants. And I developed an eating disorder. I became bulimic. And what people don’t understand about bulimia and many of the eating disorders is that it’s not about body shape. It’s not about wanting to be sin. And with bulimia, I think of it as an addiction. And I was addicted to food. Except then I felt so awful after I’d eaten all this food that I would purge. But in eating all that food, it was about filling an emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I felt so empty on the inside. And you could hide it. So I could hide this from my daughter put a bandaid on the pain that I was feeling for a moment. And it would always happen at nighttime when I had to go into the bedroom on my own. And to go to that bedroom by myself. I couldn’t deal with it. And I didn’t deal with it for years. And that’s when I would go and binge to try and feel that that emptiness that I felt. So things got so difficult. Where I was living in Melbourne. It was too overwhelming. I was trying to be mom, I was trying to be dad. I was I had this career that I was that I needed to have in order to put food on the table. I had to answer to other people pretty much on a daily basis to still two years later. There was a lot of gossip in the Italian community. So I decided to leave. I couldn’t I couldn’t deal with it now moved up to the Gold Coast where I live now in Queensland, beautiful place. I didn’t know anybody that was an experience in itself, but I went straight into the music career. No problems at all. I transitioned really well. I had a very high profile career here. My daughter went to a private school. I had bought my own home So it was the best thing I could have done. Then about or five years after my first husband died, I met my second husband in a nightclub. He was 11 years younger than me. But he lied about his age because he knew who I was. He knew about my life because I was her high profile. Everyone in the city knew me through my performance career, because I would also do a lot of TV work. So he knew I had a child. And she was only 10 years older than him. Sorry, younger than you. So he was 20. And I was 31. And he taught me he was 25. And because he was a tall guy, and he kind of you know, and he seemed really mature, that I thought, okay, I didn’t even question his age. And it wasn’t until it was coming up to his 21st birthday, that I found out his age. And by then it was too late. I mean, I was hooked. And we were getting on really well. And we ended up marrying, we’ve now been together for over 31 years. And we have a fantastic marriage, we have a fantastic relationship. And we ended up having a daughter. So I have two girls. So my oldest is now 41. And she has two boys. So I have two grandchildren. And my youngest is now just turned 25. So my my oldest daughter is a singing teacher, she ended up following my lead in the entertainment industry. And but she went into the teaching side. And my youngest is a professional dancer who’s currently employed with celebrity cruise lines as a production cast dancer.
Mandie Kramer 20:34
So you have two performers following after their mothers.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 20:37
Two performances. Yeah. And they’re both really strong, really independent, beautiful women. And both of them have come through unscathed. Through all of this, through everything that I’ve been through, they’re really good.
Mandie Kramer 20:55
I have so many things, I’d like to unpack your story, I was just kind of my breath was just kind of taken away while you were telling your story. And I’d love to, I’d like to unpack a few things.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 21:07
Sure, go for it. I’m open to answering your question.
Mandie Kramer 21:14
Yeah. I mean, I have a whole list of questions, but they’re nothing to do with what I have now in my mind. So, the first thing is what actually helped you take action to step up and leave that environment?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 21:31
It was absolute necessity. For my own mental health, I had to leave that environment, being in that environment was not giving me the opportunity to heal. But when I came here, I was able to seek help. I couldn’t do it in Melbourne. Here, I went to see naturopaths, I went to psychologists, I went to counseling, and each of them had their good and their bad points.
Mandie Kramer 22:02
And just thinking about, like, there’s a lot of moms that I hear about on Facebook in certain mom groups that I’m in. And they just I just feel for them because they are in this situation of abandonment, whether it’s you know, their father, or whether it’s a husband or just a boyfriend or whatever, a partner of any kind, they just kind of get up and leave like, oh, this isn’t fun anymore. Like, I don’t like these responsibilities, or, you know, like, they just, it all falls back on them and to and to again, like kind of be that mother and father figure. And yeah, it’s just, it’s it’s so sad to hear you know that this is such a problem, you know, when you were younger, and now it’s still a problem and still, like that feeling of helplessness. So, I’m just wondering, what advice do you have for these mothers today? What would you say to them if if they were experiencing what you had experienced?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 23:12
The greatest piece of advice that I would give to those moms is to be kind to themselves. This is making me feel emotional. Yeah, because I wasn’t kind to me. I was so hard on myself. I felt that I had to be superwoman. And you can’t be you can’t look after anybody. If you’re not taking care of you. You have to put yourself first and foremost, in order to be a mom to be that that other parent, the dad, if you’re not feeling well, if you’re not in a good mindset, if you’re struggling, it’s going to filter through. And I was trying to please everybody to I was trying to live to everyone else’s expectations. And I think that is a great problem for for those moms too, because you kind of feel that you need to prove everybody wrong that, yeah, I’m in control here. Yes, I’ve got this. And it’s, and they feel ashamed. If they don’t work, they can’t. But you need to look after yourself. You need to be sure that you do something every day that makes you happy, that brings you joy that brings you peace, you need to have a quiet moment where the where you can gather your thoughts, you need to have a regime of self care, clear out your mind, clear out those thoughts that negativity, I find meditation is a great way to do that. But everyone has their own way. And there’s no right or wrong. Go for a walk, whether it’s on your own, get out and get some sun on you. Breathe the fresh air, feel the grass under your fate, whatever it is you need to do to feel good. Then, if possible, like even going for a walk, getting that exercise where you release some of those happy endorphins in your body, eat well, sleep well. Just basic things like that all all contribute to your mindset. You know, it’s so it’s just taking care of you, and have having strategies in place that you look after yourself. And I know that a lot of parents, a lot of moms would say, but that’s so hard when you’re trying to look after a young one, you know, where do I find the time to go for a walk when I’ve got a baby. And I would say put that baby in the pram or the pusher and go for a walk, I bet you the baby is going to enjoy it as well. And at times it is it’s harder to take that step to take action. But that’s going to be the biggest hurdle. But once you do, and once you start to reap the benefits of all those things, and being kind to yourself and looking after yourself, you’re not going to want to look back, you’re just going to go What the hell was I thinking? Why didn’t I do this sooner?
Mandie Kramer 26:39
Yeah, absolutely. You make such great points, especially with, you know, when you become a mother, it’s kind of like, oh, well, I am second, I’m second to my child like this child is everything. And this shift kind of happens. Also culture kind of pushes us to feel this way too. But you’re exactly right. You know, it can’t. It can’t just be you know them first, it’s you first you need to take care of yourself for so that you are completely holed to then give to somebody else. But if you just give, give, give, I mean, there’s not going to be anything else left for anyone around you, including your kids. So I thank you so much for that advice. And those suggestions. I think not just single moms out there needed to hear that. I think every mom needed to hear that. So thank you for that. That was amazing.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 27:29
Yeah, I think we just need to change our mindset around putting yourself first. Don’t look at it in a selfish way. It’s actually a selfless thing to do. Because when you feel amazing, you’re going to be an amazing mom. If you feel tired, and you feel rundown and you’re not taking care of yourself, then we have a problem.
Mandie Kramer 27:54
Absolutely. I completely agree. I love to transition to community within the music industry, because that’s something that you’re very passionate about. And yeah, I’d love to, to hear about what opportunities that are for some moms out there that may have maybe even like thought about doing a singing career or maybe they’re on maternity leave and they actually have this time and space to be more creative. And they want they have that outlet now. So where what do you suggest for for women out there who are looking for this kind of community that maybe they just never even started or even considered pursuing? Until later-
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 28:42
Yeah, yep. There’s so much joy from singing. And it’s not only about the joy from singing, and there’s different opportunities to because you can join a choir. And I know in the US, there’s a lot of choral groups out there, there’s a lot of community choirs, and even through churches, that people will have that opportunity to sing. And forge friendships with other people who have the same love and the same passion. But the most interesting thing about the voice, and when you start to sing is that you start to discover your voice in other areas of life, you start to unlock something, things that start happening. So it’s self confidence, self esteem, tapping into your authentic self, finding your voice in life, speaking up where you wouldn’t normally speak up, because your voice is free. So there’s a lot of things. It’s not just singing. So it’s a lot of things. And if you’re doing it with other people, then it’s that sense of community. And our basic human drive is to be surrounded by other people, we need to have that sense of community for our own joy and happiness. So there’s it’s win, win, win, win, win. There’s no negatives in doing something like that.
Mandie Kramer 30:14
I can tell that you that you just have so much passion, and that being able to be with people from the start of trying to find their voice and then seeing their growth. I can, people can’t see the video right now. But I can just see the passion. It just radiates off of you of how much you love doing this and helping people find their voice again, not just, you know, vocally but their voice in life. It’s just really, really great to see.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 30:41
Yes, because when you when you go back to the start of my story, I was shut down as a child, no one listened to me. I wasn’t given a voice in life, singing help me find that. So I’ve created a whole career out of something that I love. And I’ve never felt like I’ve gone to work a day in my life. It’s my passion. It’s my purpose. And my mission is to help other people find their voices in life. And that’s the driver behind my podcast as well is allowing people to find their voice discover their authentic selves, no matter who they are and where they’re at in life.
Mandie Kramer 31:20
Can you tell us a bit about the name of your podcast and that information?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 31:25
Yeah, okay. Yeah. Yes, my podcast is called A Voice and Beyond. It’s not whether you’re a member of the singing community, or beyond. This is for you. This information is for you to help you live your best life.
Mandie Kramer 31:41
Thank you so much. And thank you for your, for your stories, your life stories, you’re very emotional, but amazing story of overcoming adversities in life and just being a role model for women everywhere. Mandie, I really hope that if anyone feels like they really connected with you in this episode that they can reach out to you
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 32:05
Mandie Kramer 32:06
Where can people find out more information about all the things that you’re doing and your book that you’ve written and all that good stuff?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 32:12
Okay, well, people can find me via my podcast. So, it’s A Voice and Beyond. And my website is www.drmarisaleenaismith.com. And Marisa has one S.
Mandie Kramer 32:31
I’ll be sure to put the link in the show notes so they don’t have spelling. Yeah.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 32:35
And I’m on social as well. I’m on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn. So if anyone wants to connect at any time, if anyone wants some online lessons.
Mandie Kramer 32:48
There you go. There you go. The beauty of the internet.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 32:53
How’s that? Yeah, or chat? Awesome coaching. Just let me know
Mandie Kramer 32:58
Thank you so much, Marisa. It’s been an honor talking with you today. And yeah, just thank you from everyone.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 33:06
No, I appreciate because what you’ve done today is you’ve given me a voice. And I appreciate that. It’s great. Thank you for allowing me to share.
Mandie Kramer 33:16
Thank you so much.
Mandie Kramer 33:25
Thanks for taking the time to join in on this episode on the Wander Mom Diaries Podcast. If you’re enjoying the show, then I would love it if you could tell one other person about it. It’s super easy to discover, no matter what device you have, just go to www.wandermomdiaries.com. At my website, you’ll find the podcast episodes and the blog posts that match up to the episodes you’ve listened to. All of my links are in the podcast description, so you don’t need to worry about memorizing it. But it’s best to share this page with a friend you think will enjoy the show because you can listen in on all the episodes right there from your browser. You can even subscribe with your preferred listening apps through that page. It would be absolutely amazing if you could share this resource with one other person today. We are all here to help each other. So if you’re a fellow wander mom who would like to share your story on the podcast, reach out in the DMs on Instagram at Wander Mom Diaries, or you can email me at email@example.com I would absolutely love to hear your story. Thanks again for tuning in. And don’t be afraid to explore away wander moms.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 34:35
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway. Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of A Voice and Beyond.