I began my 2017 coaching sessions aptly named The New Diva Project, June 10. The New Diva Project (TNDP) is a series of coaching sessions for singers and actors who sing. The main purpose is to help singers hone performance skills, develop a unique style and professional integrity. D.I.V.A: D –Develops constantly, doesn’t quit growing, disciplined, diffuses problems by being prepared, I –has Integrity, interested in your material, presentation, information giving (story). Is Involved! V – Vocally strong, votes for the material that suits you, vulnerable, has veracity and is not fake. A – Awesome, altruistic, (never competes or puts another down), has bold audacity, stays alive, awake and aware.
Ask these questions: Do you believe in you? Do you believe in what you are doing? Your song? Your accompanist? Do you watch Masters, read about their lives? Do you know the history of the song? Do have courage? There are four sessions in this series:
Session One: Detoxing Bad Habits (or Are You Comfortable Being Average?)
Self awareness is the key! Notice self defeating thought patterns. Center yourself. Ask for and expect a better idea. Have patience with yourself. Give your mind new material. Stop and say NO to the repetitive and the routine. … Continue Reading
A few weekends ago I invited a group of singers into my living room to discuss some concerns one of these singers had voiced about my knowledge of conducting oneself professionally on stage—the “old school” way. She is a well-trained singer/musician, but felt her training lacked in its concentration of stage presence, and performance. She was a fan of those legends of yesterday: Ella, Lena, Sarah, Carmen and others of a bygone time of glamour. She felt cheated that she had grown up in a time where vintage glamour no longer existed. She felt I, as a performer reflected another kind of aura onstage that was reminiscent of that time. Because of my age, I agreed. Indeed, a witness horrible disrespect for professional manners and protocol when performing by many and it seems to be accepted. Whether it be an open mic, or a concert performance I have seen hideous actions that do not serve one’s artistry.
I have seen all aforementioned legends perform and many others from my childhood in the 40-50’s into the present. These performers to this day were/are my inspiration. They are magicians in that they interpreted, sang and indeed lived through the music. Much of it now is from a bygone time but I feel must be a reflection that is still longed for by audiences today. Many young people have never witnessed elegance in a performance and of of course missed an opportunity to acquire a taste. The industry has changed, but the discipline is still required, needed and appreciated.
I have conducted several workshops called The Diva Project which focuses on the interpretation of a song story, something that eludes many with fine vocal instruments but who lack the ability to move their listener’s emotions, though they convey great exhibition of tone and control or execution of vocal acrobatics. I haven’t conducted a Master Class for more than a year and was ready to conduct another with more emphasis on presentation and building a show. In our discussion with these singers I listened and addressed their concerns from my own experience of working onstage professionally since I was eight years of age. I also invited my daughter who is a longtime professional dancer, solo and back-up singer, choreographer and actress, choreographer and now Artistic director of the Motown Tribute Touring Company to share and address some of the problems of the 14 singers assembled because she auditions selects singers for her company.
She is often perplexed by the lack of many singers not knowing basic principles of auditioning, performance and stage presentation. She and I have joined forces and will be coaching the Diva Project together!
How do I begin to tell what this year has brought me? The last day of May, 2016 marked the day I entered a new fantastic phase of my life. What a landmark year for me! It was a special gift to me because after a near death experience in my 20’s I had never dreamed I would still be living and experiencing so much life. What a roller coaster ride! Growing along the way brought me hurdles I thought I’d never be able to overcome but now I have been given the opportunity to see it was all a divine growth experience—and yes, those growth experiences are still happening. I have been given grace and gratitude.
Allow me to speak of gratitude for those things that happened when I decided to tell my three children what I would like for my 80th birthday. I had thought long and hard and weighed the possibilities, I finally decided rather than a large party or concert with family and friends from across the country (which could be costly for many of them to attend either physically or financially New York) I would like to have another adventure. I love jazz and travel. I told them I wanted to attend Barry Harris’ Jazz Workshop in Rome, Italy in September. I had never been to Italy (though I did step over the border in the 80’s on my first trip to France). But Rome; magnifico! When I announced my desire, the three of them said together over (quite appropriately) pizza, “You’re going to Rome!”