|Posted on May 14, 2013 at 1:05 AM|
I recently attended a seminar devised to provide advice about finding success in the music industry, with regard to the administrative and promotional aspects (as opposed to the talent aspect, as that fell into the "it goes without saying" category). There were interesting, intriguing, informed presenters representing various facets of "the business". One speaker particularly caught my attention when she posed the question - to a room full of musicians, songwriters, side men, composers, and the like - "How many of you have actually created and written down your mission statement?" Not a single hand was raised. No movement, except that of a head or two slowly shaking side to side, non-verbally stating, "Nope... never crossed my mind." Soon after, we were given an instruction. The presenter guided us, "I want you to take about one minute, and just jot down a few phrases, comments, answers... to the following question: 'Why do I do what I do?... Why am I compelled to do it?'" Heads dropped, pens contacted paper, and - in my case - fingers began tapping rapidly upon my laptop.
About a minute or two later, the speaker began plucking answers from volunteers, providing feedback, stimulating conversation that further enhanced and embellished the scribbled phrases. Then, ...my turn. As ridiculous as this may sound, my face flushed a bit and my heart palpitated. This IS ridiculous, considering I'm completely at home on a stage, opening up to an audience, from behind the footlights. But this setting was something different. And my chemical reaction made that evident! The first words out of my mouth offered a qualifiying statement, prematurely admitting that I had possibly done the assignment "wrong". My tendency to "overachieve" sometimes results in what I judge to be "not exactly what you might have been looking for". Nevertheless, I took a breath and read my prose:
"My obsession to communicate through song is innate. I know only of its origin through others, since I was too young to recall the first time I burst into song, and thereby, never stopped singing. Since then, my passion to share stories through song has grown exponentially, and has carved more paths in more genres than I could ever have imagined. It has become impossible to "label" what I do at this point, due to success in all of those paths. Not through fame or finances. Through symbiotic relationships created between myself and a room of 10 or 10,000 audience members. From opera houses in major cities where audiences applauded my high Cs, to audiences where I felt an unspeakable connection to one person while offering a torch song made famous by Ella (Fitzgerald), to watching someone weep two rows back during my one-woman, auto-biographical musical cabaret, because they too had lost everything they held dear to them, and had to find a reason to breathe for just one more day. Our pain and our triumph was universal, and we wept for each other... me behind the footlights, he from his squeaky theater chair. This is the connection I crave, I need, I want, and I can't live without."
Every head turned in my direction, as my voice delivered the final phrase. I was now beyond "flush", but rather a deep crimson, when I heard an attendee say, "You JUST WROTE THAT in that ONE MINUTE we were given?!" As the speaker declared to the room that I was "a writer", I quickly corrected, "No, no! I'm a vocalist!", with near desperation that there be no confusion! She smiled back and said, "You are a writer... and you should be blogging." She continued on with some very poignant comments about opening the lines of communications with one's fans if one has a talent for writing, and - most importantly - finding one's "hook". She suggested that mine was simply my love for stories (and their characters). And ya know what? She was right. I'd been searching for a way to amalgamate the extended spectrum of genres I currently offer, without looking like colossal confusion on paper. And this was it. Stories. Characters. Passion. Communication.
Since then, I've been processing that information and trying to let the creativity flow, regarding possible opportunities, concepts, program/production ideas, etc. Let the games begin.
Thank you, Siobhan Quinn (Montgomery College Cultural Center for the Arts), for your insight and guidance that day. I've already completed step one. Blog. Connect to your fans. Done.