Travis Pauli: AKA "Ugly Face"


They call me ugly face.

That’s not true.  At least I hope it’s not. I guess you can never really know for sure, but the group members don't seem the type to have that in them.

The only reason I even mention this is because of Bill Seymour. If you've seen his blog post, you'll know that, on occasion, my countenance has been a point of discussion--specifically, my expression when I sing. On a normal day, I'm not going to win any beauty pageants, but when I sing, something happens. Something which I can only hope the vocal stylings coming from my mouth can counter. As Bill mentioned, I do work hard at trying to create the best sound I can, but it comes at the cost of a facial expression which starts off as a sorrow/pain hybrid and morphs into anger/pain as the song gets louder or the notes get higher. It’s something I've been aware of for a very long time and something that I'm always working hard to fix.

Well, kind of.

Okay, um, not really. 

I just sing. If you want to see a nice smile, take a look at Ellis, or Jeremy, or Daniel. They're always smiling, and they look like they love what they're doing. That’s why they're always in the front. If you want to see a guy at the pinnacle of concentration (and with a look of constipation), I'm the guy you want, and they're trying to hide me in the back row. Well, you know what? I'm a giant, and I can't be hidden. So, look whenever.

Actually, it’s probably not a good idea. Nothing good can come of it. Look at the front row and enjoy, and if I ever sing a solo, just close your eyes, picture someone attractive and smiling doing the singing, and soak it in. But always know that I’m up there loving every second of it.

I am not an original member of the group.  I believe I joined in the spring of 2008, but I honestly can't tell you that’s 100% correct.  If it is, that would make this my 13th round of performances with the group. I've never tallied that before. That seems huge!

But singing in this group is one of those things that feels like you've been doing it forever, yet, at the same time, it’s like it just started yesterday. It’s set up perfectly for me. We do a few performances, and then we take some time off. Every time we are ready to get started again, I get excited. It has never felt old or burdensome for a single day, and I think that’s what makes me appreciate the opportunity so much.

Singing has always been a very important part of my life. I was very active in different things in high school, but music was always my favorite. Then, suddenly, graduation happened, and it came to an abrupt end. The college years went by, and through my early 20s, there didn't seem to be an outlet. Then the opportunity came that I could join the group, and what a group it is! Every season is a vocal and mental challenge, and I sing with some very talented and knowledgeable people. I often feel so inadequate with my knowledge of musical history or theory when I'm with these guys. They're discussing pentatonic scales and suspended minor fifths (I don't even know if that’s a real thing), and I'm just here thinking, “I know I go from a C to a G here, and if I do that right and keep my mouth shut, no one will know that I'm kind of an idiot."


But no one cares anyway. We sing, we enjoy each other’s company, and if there were no concerts at the end of the season, I think most of us would still show up for the camaraderie and the chance to make fun of each other a little bit. The only thing I do know is this: The only way I’m not going to be a part of this group is if they kick me out, and if that happens, there’s going to be a fight. Fists will fly. I’m not real tough, so they may not land anywhere, but they will be a-flyin’.


I've been asked to share some things about myself, and I don't really know where to start. The easiest place is probably with my family. I live with my wonderful wife, Heather, and two amazing daughters, Ellie (3) and Bailey (1). There is always singing going on in the house, but the music of choice is currently most of the soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen. Both of my daughters are in love with the movie, and Ellie has most of the songs memorized, down to the vocal inflection of the characters as they sing. I prefer songs that have a little more soul and grit. Some past Sonnenberg Station favorites include “Nobody’s Fault” and “My God Called." You can really let loose on a song like that without the rigid precision that other songs require. My absolute favorite has to be the song, “Things That Never Die." It’s a beautiful, flowing song (in contrast to what I just said I liked--I'm a walking, talking contradiction) in which I had the opportunity stand beside one of the most talented singers I’ve been around – Hank Rossiter – and got to listen to accompaniment by another of the most talented musicians I've known – Kevin Himes. The opportunity to make music with those two and Tim Shue make singing in Sonnenberg Station so much fun.  Truly some of the most talented people I've ever been around.

Posted on March 17, 2014 .