About Teresa Hergert Kruze

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“My Grandpa has whiskers they’re not very long.”

I was standing on a stage at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary singing my heart out in a competition for seven year old girls. 

“But boy, they can bite you they’re terribly strong!” 

I scanned the room as I sang, looking at all the anxious parents, the other seven year old singers and the tired looking Adjudicator. I had only been singing for two months and this was my first official performance.  Mom thought my singing teacher was crazy for entering me into competition so soon but Mrs. Pocaterra talked her into it. “Teresa will do just fine!” she trilled.  Mrs. Pocaterra didn’t just talk.  As a former opera singer she “trilled” and made every sentence sound like a lovely song. I practiced furiously for several weeks and before I knew it, I was all dolled up in my best dress and getting ready to sing at the Kiwanis Music Festival.

The song continued and suddenly I had this wild thought.  “Just sell it Teresa.  Sing it like you’ve never sung before and dazzle them!”  I took a deep breath and soared into the next verse of Grandpa’s Whiskers like I was Judy Garland-somewhere-over-the-rainbow-on-her-way-to-St.-Louis-on-a-trolley.  People were smiling.  Even the Adjudicator stopped writing and was watching my performance. Suddenly, I stumbled.  My mind went blank and I forgot the words.  I had been having so much fun “selling” the song that I couldn’t remember what came next. The room went silent as everyone stared at me and my accompanist stopped playing. Finally I swallowed, turned to Miss Milne and calmly asked, “Can we start again, please?”  Off we went and I sang the song right through to the end with just a little less “dazzle” than before but at least I made it through with a clean performance. When it was over, I curtsied to the audience and walked back to my Mom.  I had let everyone down, especially my wonderful singing teacher who had believed in my ability and pushed my family to let me sing. The adjudicator got up and talked about everyone that had competed that afternoon.  Then she announced the second place winner.  It wasn’t me.  The pretty little girl flounced up to the front of the room to collect her certificate with the red sticker.  The adjudicator looked out into the expectant room.  A hush fell.  She was holding what I wanted.  I wanted the first place certificate with the shiny gold sticker on it with all my heart but I had messed up and forgotten the words.  I looked down and studied my black patent shoes and white frilly socks.  “And the winner of the seven year old age group is, Teresa Hergert!” The crowd was clapping and the adjudicator was smiling.  My Mom sat in stunned shock as I ran up to the stage to collect the coveted first place prize.  My singing teacher who was sitting in the first row was smiling and clapping the hardest of anyone in the room.  “I knew you could do it Teresa!” she trilled. As I basked in the warm glow of praise, congratulations and hugs I felt like anything was possible. I was seven years old and it was the first turning point of my life.

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