Wednesday musings from Los Angeles...
As I heard from many of you yesterday about the blog entry, the next series of thoughts arose from what you are drawn to as a singer, as far as genre, arena, style is concerned.
Being drawn to a genre, and having a physical instrument that can athletically take on that genre doesn't automatically assume you have the goods to sing that style in that genre with authenticity!
We must find out what we are drawn to and why. Again, as I have said in numerous blogs before, it is imperative that the artist not live in a vacuum!! If you are truly on an artistic path, you must be prepared for self-examination and self-truth. Having the honesty to truly see yourself, is CRUCIAL in your development as an artist, and certainly to try to pursue a career in whatever avenue of the business you are delving!
We can be drawn to many genres and styles. Some of those genres are more suited to us just enjoying OTHERS doing them, and some we can explore as possibilities of performance!
A physical instrument and a passion for a genre is not enough! We must be willing and able and capable to delve into that genre fully - to immerse ourselves in the authenticity of that genre and style to find out how it lives organically, how it functions, where it comes from, how it is rooted, why it is rooted. Authenticity comes out of living something true. Authenticity does not happen because you want it to, or because you pretend it to.
A great example of this is R&B music. Many of us are drawn to it. I happen to love R&B! But just because we are drawn, does not mean we have ANY business singing it even if our physical instrument has the capability!!! Have we done our research? Do we know where R&B originates? Do we know the historical and musical development of the genre and the many styles within that genre? R&B has as many complexities as the history of opera! There is nothing simple about it!
As with any genre, we must understand the differences between styles and traditions. A style represents something; a tradition LIVES something. A style can be "put on", but a tradition must be lived in, absorbed and translated from the inside out.
We have seen and experienced authenticity and lack thereof in EVERY genre, arena, style of music. Stereotypes have grown out of the lack of authenticity of genre - from opera to jazz to music theatre!
Often when we say we "hate opera" or "hate jazz" - we are generalizing a response to the lack of authenticity we have seen and experienced by someone who should not have been singing it!!!
"Stylists" are rampant in our business. These are the pretenders, the dabblers, the finger painters. They are in every genre and in every arena of that style. From a distance, they seem to wear the right artistic clothes, but as you observe more closely, as Sondheim so eloquently put it "sometimes when the wrappings fall, there's nothing underneath at all!"
These "stylists" just brush the surface of a genre, and try to impress, not express. You ultimately cannot express something you do not know!
The self-truth of artistry allows for us to delve into where we are drawn, and once we recognize where we are, and what is there for us to learn, helps us recognize we are not necessarily the artist to bring the truest authenticity to that genre or style. Just cause you want it, doesn't make it a good idea! If we are true artists, and truth seekers, we must have the ability to see this and let it take us into the direction we are most destined to claim.
Stylists are not artists. They follow a formula, not a truth. They surround themselves with further formula to protect, not reveal. They might have the potential to discover but they never have the guts to reveal. They want it because they want it - there is more selfish, than self-less in their motivation and they will create a life around them that keeps that intact.
Artists do not function that way. We are and need to be driven by truth, and authenticity and have the guts to go deeper and higher and if need be, walk away knowing more but taking that knowledge into another genre and arena.
So, as you discover what your physical instrument is capable of, and what you are drawn to psychologically and emotionally and spiritually, you must then be aware enough to discover what you can DO and what is better left to somebody else. This does not mean you can't EXPLORE because that feeds and informs too! But just because it's there doesn't mean you should have it!
If you SHOULD have it - then really CLAIM it!!! Don't choose to be stylist if you can truly be an artist!! If you are going to DO something - DO IT FULLY, not half-assed! Ultimately it takes more effort NOT to be found out and creating a delusion than it does being authentic!
Discover, explore, claim and LIVE your craft!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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