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The Communicator

Breathing Music

Lilah Burdine shares her story about how music is at the heart and soul of everything she does in life.
Isabella Maldonado

From the minute she took her first breath, Lilah Burdine lived and breathed music. Everything in Burdines life is surrounded by music, even her name. When Burdine was born, her parents had originally decided to name her Clementine, but a last-minute decision to name her after a famous Mexican songwriter, named Lila Downs, widely known for her rendition of “La Llorona,” may just have been fate. Her name predicted the future of what makes her soul content: music.

When Burdine moved from Mexico to Michigan at the age of seven, she didn’t have a place that was her own, a place where she belonged, a community. That was until she joined a church choir. Burdine has never been much of a conversationalist, so she found the community created by singing hymns in an old church to be one that spoke volumes to her soul. Although her family was never religious, she and her older brother attended the church just to participate in the church’s choral program, where she found her love of performing.

“Even though I’m not religious at all, being in a church choir and hearing these beautiful gospel songs was very eye-opening in a way. I’m glad I had that experience pretty young,” Burdine said.”I cry every time I watch a choir performance.”

Since then, performing has continued to draw Burdines in. The sense of community, the hard work, the determination, all of it appeases Burdines appetite for music.

“But seeing people just perform what they’re passionate about is just so heartwarming that it literally moves me,” Burdine said. “Even if it’s not like the music I’m super into, I still end up going to their concert because it’s what they’re passionate about, and I want to see what other people put all their work into.”

Burdine and her older brother thrived in a musical environment throughout their entire childhood. After joining the choir together, the pair continued to pursue their musical passions. The first instrument she had ever laid her hands on was her older brother’s bright blue, miniature guitar with horses painted on the side. Her brother helped shape Burdines influences, and through music, they grew an unbreakable bond.

“My older brother is pretty much my best friend, we could be fighting and we could hate each other, but it will be okay. We’ll put on some David Bowie, and everything works out. We have this one shared playlist called ‘Maybe David Bowie is God’ and it’s mostly like British rock,” Burdine said. “They’ve gotten me into a lot of artists that I really cherish and I wouldn’t have found them without him. Music is just such a beautiful way to connect with people.”

But the musical ties in her family don’t stop with her brother. When she welcomed her stepdad into her family, they started a strong bond the only way Burdine knew how, through music. Since meeting her stepdad, Lilah has been introduced to yet another world of music and has spent her time soaking up every bit she could from her stepdad’s knowledge.

“When I first met my stepdad, I didn’t really know him at all, and what we always talked about, and what we still do all the time is music,” Burdine said. “He’s broadened my music tastes a lot. Although my music tastes were already very extensive, It’s 100 times more now that he started sharing music with me.”

The most important song in Burdines life came to her when she was in 3rd grade; it was called “She” by Dodie. The moment the song’s last chord was played, she acknowledged a part of herself, saying that it was okay for her to be gay.

“I mean, I know my mom’s gay and my brother is gay, but it was just like I never quite understood that was like a thing I could be until I heard this song,” Burdine said. ”It was that song that really personified the feelings I was feeling. It reminds me that there are other people like me, and it’s okay.”

Since then, Burdine has seen Dodie twice, and each time she plays her song live, Burdine bursts into tears at hearing the acceptance from one of her biggest role models. “She” has had such a big impact on Burdines life that it just had to be one of the first songs she learned to play on the ukulele when starting to learn how to make music of her own. Burdine wishes to hear and absorb as much music as her heart can.

“It’s a burden in some way that I’ll never be able to hear all the music that people have put their work into,” Burdine said. “Because music could be someone’s whole life, and you’ll never hear it.”

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About the Contributor
Isabella Maldonado
Isabella Maldonado, Opinion Editor
Isabella is going into her junior year and her 4th semester in journalism. This year she is an opinion editor for The Communicator. She loves the law side of journalism and that is what really inspires her. Outside of room 301 she loves baking banana bread and hanging out with her friends. She is so excited for this year in journalism!

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