“Music was something that I used to take away my pain, make me look at the brighter side of life. It healed something inside of me.”
Senior English and communication major AnnMarie Chacko’s life was changed forever at the end of her senior year of high school.
For as long as she could remember, singing was not only a passion, but part of Chacko’s identity.
“My mom says that I was singing before I began to talk,” Chacko said.
“When I was younger I would go to shows with my mom and come home singing every song, reciting every line.
Disney movies would always be playing in my house and I knew the songs word for word. There was nothing else I wanted to do.”
While growing up in the Bronx, Chacko attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts.
“Singing was a part of me that kept me together. It got me through some real rough times,” Chacko said. “I woke up with music on, went through my day with music playing in the background.”
Chacko was a member of the Mixed Chorus, Gospel Chorus and Girls Chorus. Over the years as a performer in these choruses, Chacko performed on Broadway for Broadway Cares with Patti LaBelle, in different churches around the New York City area and in a few colleges in New York State and in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall.
Her school work was focused on performance. Chacko said “at school, to pass our midterms and finals, we were asked to perform selections from different operas and classical works.”
As her singing talent excelled, her passion for performing increased as she grew up. Chacko’s personal hopes, plans and aspirations for the future were cut and dry.
“I had plans to do it big. I wanted to continue my musical education and keep performing,” Chacko said. “I had plans to apply to Julliard School of Music as well as NYU’s Tisch School for Performing Arts.”
Chacko, as an only child, described the relationship between herself and her parents as a plane ride.
“Sometimes the ride was smooth and everything would be going as planned, as expected,” Chacko said. “Other times, I would be locked in my room, pissed about something new that happened that day.”
“My mother was very supportive of my decision to pursue a career in music. She came with me to auditions, every rehearsal and every performance. My father, however, did not,” Chacko said.
“He refused to believe that something as frivolous as singing could ever put necessities like food on the table or a roof over your head.”
Cabrini College, or any other non-performing arts school for that matter, was not an option for a future education in Chacko’s mind, for she wanted to sing and nothing else.
The plans Chacko had in mind for her future were changed drastically and her future spun out of her control.
“I got the acceptance letter from Cabrini in the mail, without having applied in the first place. I went to my father and asked him what it was. He told me he hadn’t seen me apply anywhere yet and wanted to make sure I was going to get a proper education,” Chacko said. “I was furious.”
The early acceptance was set in stone. Nothing could be done and nothing could be changed regardless of disagreement or anger.
“I felt betrayed. I was hurt. My father had gone behind my back and taken away the one thing that got me through the day.”
Accepting the situation was the only choice Chacko had. “I had been accepted to college and was told to suck it up and make do of the situation,” Chacko said. “It was hard at first but eventually I did accept it.”
While leaning on her friends for support and trying to think of the good rather than the bad, Chacko said, “My family and friends who have stuck by me provide me with the strength I need to face each new day. I have tremendous faith in God and I know that everything’s going to work out in the end.”
Chacko left the only world she knew and had no choice but to jump into a world she knew nothing about.
“At Cabrini the people were different, the dynamics and environment were of those that I had never experienced.”
Chacko was making the best of the situation her freshman year and was making arrangements to transfer to NYU, despite the opinions of her father.
During second semester plans of transferring were changed. “Dr. Zurek told me about the different areas within communications,” Chacko said. “He mentioned that there were other ways to get connected with music once again.”
With hopes to have a career in event planning within the music industry, Chacko has come to accept the past and what had happened.
“I am happy. I still miss it everyday and I reminisce about what could have been, but yes, I am happy,” Chacko said.
“Giving up singing was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But it led me here, to my friends, my success, my accomplishments. I wouldn’t change anything if I had the chance.”