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Sometimes You Just Gotta Rock Out

November 18, 2013

I’ve learned three very important lessons from one very simple Google search. The first: find your niche…when you truly love something you can truly succeed to your full potential. The second: don’t let the fear of not knowing where to begin hold you back…not trying is not a valid excuse. The third: money is not nearly as important as sanity…we all know this yet why do we choose to forget it so often?

Let’s elaborate: I’ve discovered my niche. One thing I’ve always known is that I was born to sing. One of the most common paths for a singer to pursue is a life in theatre…but singing in musical theatre requires you to sing as someone else, to become exactly what the writer envisions you becoming. Your creative freedom only goes as far as the director allows it. And though audience applause at the end of the show is rewarding, you spend two and a half hours performing for silent staring faces. Most disappointingly, if you don’t fit a certain archetype, say goodbye to singing the songs you want to sing!

I love the theatre and will continue to pursue it when the right opportunity arises, but I’ve never felt a perfect fit for this industry, I feel limited. Upon addressing these concerns, I was given the advice to look into cover band work….and have since never felt more alive and more complete as a performer. Quick advertisement: I get to sing anything I want. ANYTHING. Jazz, blues, rock, reggae, classical, musical theatre, country. More importantly, I get to sing them HOW I want. I can make the song my own, I can put a twist on it, I can take whatever emotional journey I want through the song, Oh hell I can even change the key if I want to make the song easier!! This might sound crazy to some of my trained actors out there but….I don’t have to take ANY emotional journey through the song if I don’t want to. I can just sing without having to plan my characters obstacles and objectives. There’s no blocking. Sometimes I dance around like a maniac and sometimes I stand perfectly still with my eyes closed. I don’t get notes at the end of my performance from the director, I just feed off the audience and gauge what they want me to do next.

Picture wild clubs with screaming, dancing audiences liberated by my voice. I’m a Rockstar. Imagine classy corporate events with handsome pay and fancy cocktail attire. I’m a 1920’s jazz vixen. Think weddings with rooms full of people on the happiest day of their life requesting their favorite songs, which I always deliver. I’m the life of the party. There’s no strenuous rehearsal period. I dress how I want. Often we decide on the spot what to perform. Sometimes we jump off stage into the audience and sing with them. Sometimes we mess up a song in front of everyone and because the atmosphere is so loud and chaotic, no one cares!

This sense of laid back freedom, paired with the excitement of an energetic and engaged audience breathes life into me and keeps me eager to come to “work”. The opportunity to always sing exactly what my creative soul desires, leaves me driving home at the end of the night in awe at what an experience my gig was…not only for my endearing audience, but also how fulfilling it was for myself as an artist.

Let’s move on to number two. I had no clue how to get into a cover band. I often have no clue how to jumpstart on the path I’d like to follow…and I often let that inhibit me. I dismiss the project as too much research or too time consuming for something that may not even pan out, and I miss an opportunity that could change my career. I constantly advise artists not to limit themselves to one area of performance, and the most common response I get is that they don’t know where to begin when trying to break into another field. I tell you this: if it were easy everyone would do it. I will also tell you this: it’s often not as hard as you’re making it out to be. Most importantly, I leave you with this: never underestimate the power of a brief google search ☺

When I decided to pursue cover bands, I simply went to google and searched for cover bands in my area. I found a site matrix of bands to hire for gigs and events, looked up five bands that seemed to be getting the most work, then I sent my information out to them. I had no vocal reel and no experience in cover bands, and yet I still landed auditions. I didn’t let my fear of inadequacy or inexperience stop me. I researched the hell out of the bands I was going to audition for, dug up the most rockstar-ish outfit I could muster, and memorized a few songs from their repertoire. The first two bands I auditioned for, I landed. After that, word of mouth is enough. I’m subbing with bands all over the place and making a nice living off of it too. Not to mention I’m getting some great reel footage, performing at amazing venues, building a huge song repertoire, and having the time of my life!

Let’s conclude with the not-so-fun stuff: Money. I need it. You need it. It’s essential to land a job that supplies you with it. But my cover band experience has taught me like nothing else has before, that money is not worth sacrificing happiness. I’ve worked with bands that pay upwards of $400 for one gig! They also demanded I learn 50 songs in two days, had me driving hours and hours for rehearsals, had me calling out of my other jobs last-minute to accommodate changes, and treated me like dirt if I didn’t have everything memorized flawlessly in the two days I was given. This band also liked to perform their own rendition of songs which they failed to explain to me or give me music for, yet somehow expected me to know. I’d bring home 400 dollars but would come to the gigs having not slept for 48 hours and leave the gigs near tears from the pressure and feelings of insufficiency.

I sing with another band that pays less than half as much for a gig, but which I readily choose over the first. Our shows feel more like jam sessions, with playfulness on stage, laughing off mistakes, and all around having a good time. Our positive energy rubs off on the guests leaving them having an equally good time. The band leader calls me into gigs and lets me sing whatever I feel confident singing, supports me through the night, and congratulates me on spectacular performance at the night’s conclusion. His requests are reasonable and he acknowledges that I have other responsibilities outside the band.

Let’s recap. Feel like you’re not fitting in? Hungry for a greater creative outlet? Keep looking for different opportunities/career paths and don’t limit yourself. Your best work will arise when you are happy in your field, and maybe you just haven’t discovered your niche yet. Don’t know where to start? Don’t make excuses. Just start. If it wasn’t hard work, it wouldn’t be worth the reward. Finally….make that money! But don’t sacrifice your health and happiness in the process….or else the money ain’t worth it!

The Reckless Artist sig

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