Monday, September 12, 2011

Musician and Athlete

This past weekend, I went to a "house concert". A house concert is a real concert, featuring a professional musician, but held in a private home. I only recently found out about these concerts, through a relatively new friend who has known the host ever since she was a teenager. This was my first concert at GA's house.

Before going, I checked on Youtube to get an idea of the featured performer's musical style. I found a number of hits for her and decided to go to the concert. Obviously, Youtube is visual, but I was listening to the music and didn't really pay attention to the musician's physical appearance, especially since her body was in part hidden by her guitar.

Just before the musician came out to begin her first set, the house concert host gave a short introduction. He said that this was the first time that a triathlete was performing in his home, since the performer had recently completed a triathlon for the first time. I think we were all impressed.

A triathlon is a three-sport event made up of swimming, biking and running. There are different distances for each of the sports, depending on one's level. I just looked up the triathlon that the musician I heard on Saturday night competed in. It was a beginner's level and included a 375 m swim, a 10 km bike ride and a 2.5 km run. By tri-athlete standards, this is pretty light, but I know that even before falling prey to arthritis and degenerative back disease, there would have been no way that I could ever have run that 2.5 km. In fact, I am ready to bet my home that the average Jane or Joe in the street--no matter what their weight--could not do this beginner level triathlon without some serious training.

Back to the concert...

So, having just heard that the musician we were about to hear took her physical activity seriously on top of being a great musician, you can imagine my shock when in walked a morbidly obese young woman. Yes, I admit it. I was shocked. Which only goes to show just how brainwashed I too am by a society that insists--day in and day out--constantly and emphatically--with no exception--that fat people CANNOT be athletes and that fat people are by definition unhealthy.

She proceeded to give an amazing concert. Her energy level was through the roof, her voice was strong and vibrant. And she was truly one of the best blues guitarists I've ever heard. BB King move over, you've got some incredible competition out there.

Who is this amazing woman? If you really want to know, you can send me an e-mail and I'll give you her name. She's amazing. However, I'm not giving her name here because I believe it's spectacularly unfair to write a post about a great musician that focuses on her weight rather than on her incredible musicianship. But I just had to: I felt that this was an opportunity to stand up to the bias, stereotypes and ignorance that permeate our world.


  1. "it's in cyberspace" - the email, that is!

    I ought to "tri" one of those events, but the swim might do me in... Perhaps I'll start w/one of the "bi" events: cycling & running? (Now, if we could substitute RIDING for swimming, that would be perfect ;-)

    Don't tell me word verification doesn't have a sense of humor: "obesse"!

  2. I am often amazed at my "brainwashed" moments too. Glad you enjoyed the house concert!

    I will be emailing you...I love me some good music!

  3. I know the feeling of meeting someone you've heard about and being surprised at how they look. I've been to a house concert once, and it was very special and intimate because you got to meet the performer and really watch how they played.

  4. I hope house concerts happen around here... and that I can find one!

  5. Fabulous post! Last week, I was similarly surprised to see large women as well as older women (over 70 ) hiking on tough terrain, when I was in Switzerland. Yes, even those of us who are sensitive to this have our knee-jerk reactions. More than anything, though, I found it refreshing; in the US I rarely see individuals fitting these descriptions proudly hiking and enjoying their functioning bodies. Thanks for such a well-done post.

  6. Interesting topic Musician and Athlete