Emily (pianist) and Charlene

Last Friday night, between my second and third flights, during twelve hours of traveling from California to Florida, I stopped to sing in the main concourse at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC.


I almost passed by. The moving sidewalk had carried me through the main concourse, passed someone playing a piano, and brought me to the entrance of the terminal for my gate. There, something nudged at my heart and urged me to go back to the piano area instead of going forward, directly to the gate.  


I intended to simply stand near the piano, listen for a moment, and place a bill in the volunteer’s glass bowl. Dragging my roller bag, I strided back to the piano area. One lone man was singing along with Emily. (I knew her name was Emily because a sign on the piano said “Music by Emily.”)


Like me, the man singing with Emily had a roller bag in hand. He also had joy on his face.

When their song ended, I met pianist Emily and fellow-traveler Steve. As I was about to turn and leave, Emily and Steve invited me to join in for one song.


“Why not?”  I heard the inner voice say.   “Take the risk.”


Now, I don’t have a great singing voice, so I hesitated. In fact, I almost said, “No. I’ve got to get to my gate.”


But, again I heard the inner voice.  “Be all in”, it whispered.


“Okay. One song,” I said and joined Steve and Emily. Somehow, their clear voices helped to strengthen mine.


Soon, a young girl joined us. Another man stepped up to my side. Another woman came from behind. Within a moment, we had become a spontaneous, mini flash mob, swaying arm-in-arm, smiling, and singing “Hotel California,” “Margaritaville,” and “Piano Man.”


For a few minutes I felt connected to those new friends and to everyone in the airport.


After those three songs, it was time for me to leave. Dragging my bag toward Concourse C, I turned back to see the group start a new song. It looked like they were about to be joined by one or two more passers-by.


Proceeding to my gate, I heard another song in my mind:


“Sing. Sing out loud. Sing out strong. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough…”


Sometimes we do have to hurry by. But often we do have the time to stop and sing with someone, or to smell flowers, or somehow “be all in.”


If you ever pass through the main concourse at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, please stop and say “Hi” to Emily or whoever is playing the piano there.  I hope you’ll sing too!


2 thoughts on “BE ALL IN

  1. Beautiful Charlene!! I knew you would come away from assisting at Practicum light and bright….and full of song! Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring story of how you brought light to everyone at the airport. Keep on shining your gorgeous bright light 🙂

    Much love,

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