Opinions, oh opinions. They can fly in one ear and out the other or settle in your subconscious for the rest of days, it all depends on circumstances; who said them, when, where, why and how. And as my career slowly but surely starts to progress one persons opinion could halt it in its tracks. Mine.
It is down to me to decide which opinions I allow to agree or disagree with. I'm taking a lot of workshops to try and network, meet performers, directors, MDs, CDs and the like to develop my knowledge and exposure. Obviously I want to impress these people, show my talent and be memorable. I am aware that I have a very niche look and voice. From my appearance people assume I'm gonna have a big belty soul diva voice, I don't. I can fake one at times to get by but not sustain a full on Jennifer Hudson vocal smack down. I sang soprano growing up until coming to uni, where I lived on the alto line. I now have different professionals telling me they like different parts and sounds in my voice and I should focus more on my legit/belt/jazz voice - yep all three different sounds. However I don't want to be mediocre in three styles I want to be sensational in (at least) one. To be honest I want to impress and please everyone but I think my larynx is on track for a mental breakdown.
This morning I watched Showboat. That old school classic MT is where my love began. West Side Story was the first musical I ever saw and even though Anita is a boss, Maria not Anita was my girl vocally. As I grew up so did musical theatre and vocal knowledge. It all became technical. Estill was defining specific 'qualities' and models of larynx's were being used before anything was even sung in a lesson. Then the rise of singers like Idina Menzel with that big ol' 'belt' sound dominated. Granted you had the old school girls like Ethel Merman who used to bellow there way through a sea of legit, pretty little things (go Ethel!) But in my little world its time to take it all back, stylistically and vocally.
I look like I should be in a contemporary musical like In The Heights or Leap of Faith, or riffing my heart out in a show who's ensemble is pretty much an all acting, all singing gospel choir but that is not what I am vocally built as. Audra McDonald is my inspiration. Her voice is stunning, her acting, her personality, its all stunning but how often do you hear that beauty in 'full belt'!?
I've always been different. I've always been unexpected, people think I'm some intimidating, demanding diva when really I'm an awkward, nerdy goon, so why not switch it up now? Yeah I'm probably making it more difficult for myself to get work but easy is boring. I just want to sing. Obviously I want to keep my voice in tip top condition and any time I'm in speech quality for more than two lines my throat aches - that means to me, the owner of my body, that I am just not built to belt all the time. I've been told its just like speaking to a melody - have you heard me speak!? I have the most obscure voice! I don't shout, I shrill and don't get me started on my unspecific accent, so I sing to speak so speaking the melody is singing to me - have I lost you yet?
I've spent the last few days struggling to accept all these opinions and how I should alter myself to make everyone happy. I can't. Most importantly I need to make myself happy because I can't be putting up with miserable me everyday. I need to start singing for me again, sing because the emotion is so much it needs a full orchestra behind it not because I need to fit a mould. Its time to change the assumptions and be something a little different.
(Eastbourne, 2010) (Worthing, 2013)
I've been singing for 20 years. I used to think I just opened my mouth and it came out, I've come to learn there is so much more to it all and I'm loving the learning experience.