The Miller of the Dee; by James Baldwin; read by Dennis Jerz

I showed up at the recording studio for about two hours over the summer; the creative team had three or four different scripts for me to record. We had a grand time knocking them out, one after the other. But this particular script included the stage direction “he sings.” There were lyrics, but no score.

Not that seeing written notes would have helped me much…

I’ve been fortunate to be coached by and work alongside many talented artists, in school, as a church cantor, and in local theater; and the only thing I can say I’ve really learned is how little I know about music.

Secure in the knowledge I had no idea what I was doing, I just took a deep breath and hoped what came out wouldn’t be too awful.

We did several takes, and each time the tune I blurted out was different. At one point I hit a comically sour note, so bad that when I was voicing the king’s next line I ad-libbed a reference to singing off pitch.

Not only did the final cut include my off-pitch version and my ad-lib, some talented person even added musical accents based on the silly tune I improvised on the spot during the recording session.