The Unbelievable Stark Contrast Between Me and…me.

20150911_080154[1]

It’s time I wrote about this.

A few months ago a friend of mine I have known for a few years now came for the first time to see me perform. Her amazement at the difference between the person who makes and performs music and the painfully awkward, strange person she sees almost daily at the schoolyard reminded me of something I need to make clear to those of you who have been avoiding coming out to a gig for years because you just think ‘someone like that couldn’t be very good.’

IMG_20150928_125813[1]I see it all the time, in the people who have seen or talked to me elsewhere and then seen and heard me perform. The shock. The sheer amazement. That not only a singing voice can be so vastly different to a speaking voice, but that I could actually entertain people instead of repel them – it’s one of the many reasons I would like to be a hermit that never darkens the outside world EXCEPT to step on a stage and perform.

Your misinformed preconceived ideas of what consititutes a person who is talented, able to perform well and entertain people, is sorely wrong!

The fact is, many of the most talented people in the world suffer from some form of social anxiety or are neurologically untypical in some way. The great majority of artists (really good artists) draw their inspiration from their pain and difficulties with this ridiculous thing we call life.

Of course, the reverse happens.  People who have seen and heard me sing before getting to know me better are just as flumoxed by my inability to handle what other people just take in their stride as ‘normal’. But, that’s not as bad, because I’ve already won them as fans, and their inability to comprehend my inability to function in ‘everyday life’ is not so much of a problem…except when it is.  I also remember immediately after Robin Williams committed suicide, an uber extroverted positive type friend of mine remarked something along the lines of, “I don’t think he could have actually killed himself – he was so funny and seemed so happy.”  I love this woman, but this statement is pure ignorance.  Depression just doesn’t work like that.  And, more often than not, the great comedians are the ones that struggle the most with severe clinical depression and thoughts of suicide. One who only sees the talent and doesn’t see the struggle is in danger of losing the whole person.

I was also talking to another musical friend of mine last night.  She is very talented.  She is highly educated and intelligent.  She also has Aspergers and suffers from severe anxiety, among other things.  We were both lamenting how we have encountered the attitude (even from health professionals) that ‘we are too intelligent to be mentally ill.’  WTF????!!! This is just ridiculous.  Would you tell a well-educated and articulate person with cancer that they were too intelligent to have cancer?

So yeah, it works both ways…but, what I am mainly focusing on in this post is the former problem of getting people who avoid coming out to hear me because they can’t believe that someone who isn’t capable of making a phone call and struggles to get out of bed in the morning would be able to entertain them from a stage. PLEASE, get rid of the preconceived (ignorant) notion. You’re missing out on some good music.

Now, I realise, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. And, those of you who read my blog have already been won over, while those of you who are thinking ‘someone like that couldn’t be very good’ are also the ones who would never ‘waste your time’ reading my blog.

Do I sound a bit angry?  Sorry/not sorry.  It’s just frustrating.  No one wants to be judged on just one aspect of their personality and ability.  And no one wants to be judged on their DIS-ability.  Yes, I have issues.  Yes, they are a pain in the arse and make life a burden a great deal of the time. NO, they do not stop me from being a talented person worth listening to.

And that goes for everyone who is ‘different’ in some way.

Take your bloody filters off.

Accept both sides of the coin.

We are fucked up (so society would say), but we are also awesome.

Advertisements

A Beautiful Experience

Last night I had a unique experience. I played to a group of people who appreciated my music. This is in stark contrast to having people be outwardly impressed by my voice or inwardly jealous of my talent. It was different to any other time of either secularly performing or “spiritually ministering”.

In the church, people either show off their talent (in an “I’m better than you” sort of way) and boast in it (in the name of God, of course) or they have some sort of false humility and run from anything that smacks of either fame OR true appreciation for the gifting. And, no one would admit it, but the jealousy is everywhere. And, also, no matter what they say, they are waiting for you to impress them. At least that’s the way it was at the last church I went to.

Secularly, you better be impressive. They want to be ENTERTAINED. “Come on! Entertain me!” and the awareness of music as a spiritual gift that has something to impart is lost to the entertainment. I like to entertain, but there is so much more to music…to the innate power of music. It is healing. It is therapy. Entertainment is such a shallow side to it. And, entertainment should NOT be confused with fun. Fun is almost always entertaining (and healthy) while entertainment is not always fun (or healthy). The proven practices of music therapy should be ample proof of this.

Last night was not a “Autumn, that was nice, but could you do something else?” “Oh, not your stuff, Autumn…sing us something we KNOW!” (Well, ahem, you’d KNOW it if you LISTENED to it!) In other words, “Could you not be you but what we want you to be?” It can be a very soul-crushing experience.

Last night, gently singing Journey’s End for a local meditation group, it was as if the song – and I – was received as a gift. There was not an attitude of, “impress me, entertain me, but/and, if you do, I’ll hate you for it”; there was a refreshing, delightful attitude of…thankfulness. There was a pure receptiveness that fed MY soul. I felt like I was, in truth, ministering in music.

I was glad to give, but I received most of all. It was beautiful. And, it was very worth a note of blogging about.

A Private Audience

image

This afternoon I sat down at the piano and played and sung some of my songs, for myself.

Not rehearsing. Not working on new arrangements. Just enjoying the music, the lyrics and – yes, I’ll say it – the sound of my own voice.

Now, performing for a crowd is one of the biggest delights in my existence. When I’m not doing it on a regular basis, it isn’t long before I feel a piece is missing; I appreciate every opportunity I am given to do what I love doing. It’s more than “entertaining”. While I believe that the songs I write and I sing in my shows are good and that my voice is unique, powerful and moving, I don’t know if, honestly, “entertaining” is the right word. I kind of think if I’ve merely entertained an audience, I haven’t succeeded in what I’ve come to do. Not that there is anything wrong with entertainment…it’s just that music is soooo much MORE than that. Or, it can be so much more than that (because music is spiritual in nature). However, if someone has come for nothing more than to be entertained – and that is all they receive – so be it; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed (at least, I hope not), but I always endeavour there to be more there…to touch deeper, to go further, to leave fingerprints on the fabric of the soul which is beyond the ability of entertainment alone. And, when I listen to music or go to a concert, I am always personally disappointed if all that happened was that I was entertained.

So, today, it wasn’t about a little distraction (escape) from the relentless frustration of my (crappy) day, to come aside and amuse myself for a bit. It might have started that way, but it ended with feeding my soul and lifting it above the muck and mire (that’s the real power of music). These are songs with substance. Some are sad. Some are hopeful and comforting and encouraging. Some are prayer. All are honest expression. And, as I sat and played out the sorrows of the day, I was both performer and audience – and it was nothing so small as entertainment: this was important; this was therapy.