Introduction to

Writing for Mass Media: 2033

The ‘Oh-Shit-How-Do-I-English’ Class

At the esteemed University of Oklahoma, all journalist majors have to endure a class that will stretch their writing skills far beyond their sanity should allow.

JMC-2033: Writing for Mass Media

In this class, we are required to write an unGodly amount of material and in the process discover if we have what it takes to survive in the world of Mass Communication. My first assignment already had me questioning my writing abilities.

The first assignment was a third-person autobiography about a small aspect of our lives. We were to write, edit, and finish it by the end of class. 350 word minimum, should be easy. Right?

essay-stressIn the forty-five minutes given to write it, I struggled through each sentence, agonizing over my love of complex sentences and the self-promotion I had to do. I only wrote one draft, not even giving it a proper closing because I could not think of one in the ten seconds I had left. Sadly, I knew a multitude of edit markings would appear on the graded piece.

But to my pleasant surprise, my returned copy of edits contained few markings. Of course my lack of proper ending was noted, but over all I had a total of three small mistakes.

In celebration for exceeding my own low expectations, I will share the autobiography, which focuses on my unusual singing voice,  here!


Devon Gadberry may look like an average young woman, but she certainly does not sound like one. Even at a young age, Ms. Gadberry’s voice possessed a certain man-like quality. This proved a problem when she started taking singing lessons.

With music stars such as Christina Aguliera and musicals like Andrew Llyod Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, Devon longed to belt out the high notes. Vocal lessons were often filled with arguing over how her higher warm ups sounded. Her vocal teacher Ms. Sarah Harkins* insisted on stopping the warm ups before reaching those notes Devon so craved to sing. Later on, this insistence saved the young girl’s vocal chords. At the time, however, the precaution destroyed her self-esteem as a singer. She had never heard of any female artist, in a musical or in popular music, who sang lower range songs, specifically. The lack of precedent lead to the conclusion that she simply could not sing.

Over time, as the lessons continued, Devon’s vocal warm ups pushed her voice lower and lower, instead of higher and higher. Paired with school choirs and private lessons, Devon’s singing voice developed much faster, revealing the bass under the feminine face. As an alto in her eighth grade year, she could sing lower than most of the boys in her choir. Even though she had the advantage of the boy’s unbroken voices, Devon’s lower register stretched well below F3, which she considered the lowest note for the average alto. Ms. Harkins stated that Devon’s vocal depth was “a freak of nature.”

Devon’s high school years allowed her to explore the hidden benefits of her freakish alto voice. Musicals through the school theatre department and her community theatre contained roles for mature, and lower, voices, which Devon quickly auditioned for.

Her first major role was Marmee for the musical Little Women. As an older role, the gravelly quality of Devon’s voice gave the illusion of age better than any makeup could. The role that truly showcased her masculine voice was Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. As a junior in high school, Devon negotiated with her music director into letting her sing the most powerful songs in her lower register.

Devon Gadberry as Ursula in Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr.

Devon Gadberry as Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

Her deep-as-the-sea voice instilled fear into children during the show and caused them to flee when she greeted them after the show. Some songs brought her voice so low that one parent did not believe Devon was female until she showed them a  normal, non-theatre picture. The recognition Ursula brought Devon gave her pride in her manly voice.

[Impromptu ending for it]

As she moves forward into her college career, Devon continues singing as an alto in the Redliners, an a cappella group on OU’s campus. Every now and then, she drops down and joins the basses, too.

*Name changed for privacy reasons.

What do you think of it? Should I post an example of my singing voice? Do you even believe me? Comment your thoughts below!