I will be appearing at Pangea on December 14 at 7pm. I haven’t performed a show, other than an Open Mic 20-30 minute segment, for some time. I have a wonderful producer, Alicia Crowe, who has helped me get the gig and taken much of the responsibility of producing away from me. What a blessing!
Getting a show together is no small feat. But a successful show has to appear to look easy and unlabored. Choosing songs, having charts, giving it a twist that is only yours, choosing instrumentation and at times other singers is time consuming and must be well thought out. I always demand “just the right” lyrics that move my story and I always have a story that connects what I want to convey in my choice of material. That material must flow so tempos and arrangements have to be considered. It is like birthing a baby. (I know because I have given birth twice and have three marvelous humans called Tod, and twins Tina and Traci to prove that I know what I’m talking about.) Selecting the material and relating the songs is no easy feat, but to me the only way I want to present what I have to say.
This probably goes back to my Theater training as a professional actress. (That’s what I thought I wanted to be before a series of life experiences called me to expressing myself through singing!) To me a song is a story that has to be told through the writer’s eyes, and then reinterpreted through the eyes of the teller of the story: the vocalist. Their stories don’t necessarily have to be the same, but the I, the vocalist, have to personalize to make the story live for the audience as well as myself. Getting this together for a program of 10-12 songs sometimes has me in inner turmoil about getting it “right”. I have learned many, many songs in the many years of going through the process. I also hate repeating myself with the same material the audience may have heard over and over. This is what I do to myself, and wish many others took the time to do when presenting themselves. Without saying anymore, let’s just say getting this show together and conducting my life has had me awake all night, running into walls, talking/singing/yelling aloud and annoying my neighbors during working a show and certainly being not quite present at times. Then I have to run it by the musical director and change or add more. But I love it every bit of the process when it is over. It’s all the creative process. More to come
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!