I was at dinner with some longtime friends who I hadn’t seen in a month and I was just about to tell them about the Summer Vocal Intensive when one of them asked, “How do you feel about broadway?” Neither of them are performers and sometimes people will defer to the tastes of professionals, so rather than give my opinion I asked, “how do you feel about it?” I was shocked at what came next. “Well, I hate when I have friends who think they can sing, who think they have a chance on broadway when they will clearly never be Audra McDonald.” Then began a discussion between the other two about how broadway performers are like a different kind of superhero species and everyone else should go find another talent. I didn’t bother to point out that not every show on broadway is a musical or that Audra McDonald is glorious and unparalleled for sure, so perhaps she shouldn’t be the marker. Instead, I felt myself shrinking inside and wondering why on earth I was wasting my and Kim’s time with voice lessons.
The next day I went to lunch with good friend, Mara Davi, who has done many Broadway Musicals. She had just finished singing in the “Princess Party” concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below. She sat there with her years of experience, gorgeous voice and organic bran muffin saying, “Yeah I had to have a serious conversation with myself before the show.” They had asked her to sing a song from The Little Mermaid that had been challenging for her years ago, but her voice has since grown into it. Even though she knew she sounded great on the song, she started thinking, “but what if … (insert insecure thought)?” And that’s when she stopped and had a healthy conversation with herself. She’s one of the most well balanced, least neurotic people I know, so I figure we can all take a lesson from her!
She pointed out how psychological singing can be (also physical, technical, and emotional), and often the opposition or resistance starts in your mind and then spills out into the song. That’s why the conversations you have are so important. You can’t control what other people say to you, but you can have a healthy conversation with yourself putting things back in proper perspective. Mara reminded herself of all the reasons she shouldn’t be freaked out about singing the song and then of course she went and rocked it!
~ Kimberly Y.