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!