The Unbelievable Stark Contrast Between Me and…me.

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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.

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A Private Audience

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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.

Dream A Little Dream Of… Me?

Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda. The words of regret.

 

I coulda been a star. I had all the talent and potential. 

I shoulda tried harder to get discovered, instead of waiting, hoping and praying to be discovered…one day. A day that never arrived. I had talent and potential but lacked opportunity, but I allowed that to stop me, and I shouldn’t have. I made excuses of not having the right connections, not having enough money to record a demo – and I didn’t… but I should have done more to get those connections, I should have begged, borrowed and stolen to get the money for the demo (okay, maybe not stolen). I always had plenty of wishbone but was always lacking in backbone!

I woulda entertained millions instead of handfuls. I would have had money and been able to provide for the children I chose to bring into my world. I would not now feel the weight of so much of the talent and potential being wasted. 

Yes, I am not going to be one of those people who lie and say they have no regrets. 

 

Thankful. Hopeful. Determined. The words of a Dreamer yet unawake. Some might call that delusion, or deception. Yesterday, at church, we were encouraged by the pastor to not chase a “pipe dream”.  But my dream was never a pipe dream. My dream was always, as long as I had youth and talent, definitely in the realm of possibilities. My dream is now a flicker, and no more than that… and, of the three of those words, I must admit that I could be a whole lot more of the latter two. But, my dream could never have been, or never be, called a pipe dream. And, it is a dream that, albeit just a flicker, doesn’t merely lie there languishing, waiting to die gracefully; no, it still gasps and fights for breath.

Is it too late?  Honestly? For worldwide celebrity, yes. I am definitely not in any delusion over that. Age and health as it is. I am no longer the little girl with the incredible voice. I am no longer the young woman with the incredible voice. I am now the tired, middle-aged woman that can still sing and still loves to perform. But, really, I ceased to “need” such a vast audience a long time ago. I am, truly, very thankful for the handfuls when I get them. I am really okay with limited “fame”…as long as it happens and as long it continues (without the stops and starts), that is…I’m happy as long as I am known – and will keep being known – for who I am and what I do/can do. What I do need, however, is a regular audience. What I mean is, I need a lot more frequency (and, paid gigs again would be nice, too…back to that wishing I could provide for my family with the only thing I can do)!  Oh, yeah, and I do still need the money to record a proper CD. And, so, this is where those latter two words come in, being hopeful and determined to (at least try to) make that happen.

I need help. I still can’t do this on my own. It’s all hoping against hope. And, as I say, I think my determination is still greatly lacking – I am still more wishbone than backbone – but the determination is there. The voice will be heard…and not forgotten.

Last night I had a handful, and it was good. A friend of mine remarked how happy I looked. I told him that I am happiest and feel my best when I am performing. It was the best I had felt since the last time I had the chance to do what I both love, and am good at, doing. I so thoroughly enjoy performing. Not just singing. I do a lot of singing. And, I do enjoy singing…but, there is a certain high I get, a need I have, to perform – to “sell”, to “deliver”, a song.  And that is not a need that is met – and, indeed, should not be – by what I do as a worship leader.  What I get from leading worship is a hope that I have helped people engage and fellowship with the Most High.  The focus there is not on me – I don’t want it to be – the focus is on the Lord, and His goodness and grace and our response to it. I love leading worship, and I feel I have been called and anointed to do it. It is my ministry, and I don’t do it just to have something in the realm of music to do! No, certainly not. But, there is a difference. And, I am simply being honest that I have a need in me to perform…because the ability is there and the passion is there.

Yes, ability and passion I have in abundance. It’s the opportunities I crave. And, whenever I do get even a small opportunity, what it really does is just make me want MORE!

Last night I opened our little programme with Dream A Little Dream Of Me. It’s such a delicious song to do – fun and flirty and vocally challenging all in one, a delight. It went over relatively well, whether or not it inspired anyone who was there (other than Jamie, of course) to dream of a certain redheaded contralto. But I am relatively certain that it is the redheaded contralto herself who was the biggest dreamer there… dreaming a dream of herself. I had that handful, and it was good, indeed, BUT, I am left aching… wondering when the next handful will be. It’s sort of like a one night stand… (right, ahem, I’ll just leave that analogy right there for ya).

So, here, while I am waiting, waiting in the wings, for that next performance – the next hit, the next high, the next…(oh, yeah, we left that analogy, so sorry) – I will leave my reading public (yet another “handful”) with this:

“Sweet dreams ’til sunbeams find you, sweet dreams that leave the worries behind you. And in your dreams, whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.”