James Earl Jones doesn’t hold a candle to the velvet voice of Jeremy Lavender. You may not recognize his name, but any Durango citizen who has shopped at south City Market would recognize the warm, romantic vocals spilling from the PA system at 4 p.m. – the time when Lavender alerts shoppers to the fresh-baked French bread in the bakery.
The soothing words, “Good afternoon, City Market Shoppers…” that announce the carb goodies and deals may seem effortless, but Lavender has had over two years of intense practice. Lavender first started in the deli market, where his manager recognized the young clerk’s natural vocal gift and urged him to make announcements. It was later in the meat and seafood department that Lavender honed his craft by alerting shoppers of sockeye salmon specials during the holidays, or the rare Copper River salmon that is only in stock once per year during mating season.
When Lavender made his way to the bakery, he didn’t let the intimidating world of bagels and croissants – “When you close by yourself, there is a lot of stuff to stock,” he said – deter him from informing shoppers of essential information. What most don’t understand about mastery are the tireless hours and lifelong dedication artists like Da Vinci, Bach, and LeBron James spend working on their skills. Lavender gets it. To this day, he goes over his lines as he pushes the cart of bread over to the PA.
“I feel the pressure,” Lavender said. “Rehearsal is important. You can’t get too cocky with it.”
Lavender focuses his studies on animator RicePirate and YouTube star Psychicpeebles, who are his voice icons. Thanks to his training, he can manipulate the back of his throat in such a way to create sounds more pleasing than a passing train in the distance, or waves crashing on a rocky shore. But the humble Lavender does not boast. He is well-grounded.
“For the most part, I don’t think anybody listens, “Lavender said. “There is a lot of French bread left at the end of the day.”
The leftover French bread is in no way a reflection of Lavender’s brilliant talents. First, fresh French bread only has an hour to be considered “fresh” before it is packaged up. This gives shoppers little time to make their way from the frozen section of the bakery. This journey is almost impossible on heavy shopping days, especially when pushing a cart with a bum wheel. Second, Lavender said the French bread is too stiff when it is fresh, making it less desirable. It doesn’t develop its essential softness until it’s sealed.
“It’s a mystery I’ve yet to solve,” Lavender said.
Lastly, there is an abundant amount of French bread to be sold. Lavender said there is a mysterious rogue baker who comes in at midnight to mix mounds of dough for the bakery crew to bake the following day. Nobody knows if this man has limits to the quantity of dough he makes, but somebody needs to stop him. Lavender simply cannot turn the vast heaps of French bread that await each morning, no matter how great he sounds over the grocery store speakers.
But this will not stop him from trying. Lavender has no plans to leave City Market. He is happy in the bakery, although he is considering learning a line or two in French, so he can make his announcement more authentic. Until then, he’ll be there at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m., making his announcements, and making south City Market swoon.