Sunday, September 14, 2008


Remember the closing line from my previous post? The whole, "And for that I will sing praises to our God"? Today I had to sing in church. If there's anything I dread more than singing in sacrament meeting, I've yet to encounter it.

Why is that? Why am I so nervous to share my talents in church? Could it be previous experiences that bordered on sheer mockery from people in the congregation? Could it be that most listeners are more accustomed to sweet, breathy voices, whining, "Jesus loves me"? (Thanks Dad, for that description from years ago....) It's such a magnifying-glass experience for me, I think. Whenever I get up to sing in front of my fellow worshipers, I feel lumpy, frumpy, and downright dumpy.

And judged for it.

That really is the bottom line, isn't it? I hate feeling judged. I really don't know many people in our ward, so sharing something with them, that is such a personal part of me, is intimidating. You see, it's different than singing for an audience. The audience is there because they want to hear someone sing. The congregation didn't assemble to hear me sing, so it's not the same thing. I almost feel like I'm imposing my voice on them.

I know this is all very silly. My new voice teacher told me that I need to present myself like the true diva I am. (I kind of died inside when he said that. DIVA?! Me??) "You need to know that you have a Stradivarius in your throat - and act accordingly. Otherwise, you're not going to come across very well."

Boy, haven't I heard THAT one before!
"You come across as too nice."
"You come across as too young."
"You come across as too naive."
"You come across as if you don't know what you're doing."


I know I need to diva-it-up. Why is that so hard for me?? Is it because I've been taught since I could talk that I should be humble and meek and near-invisible? Perhaps. Standing out in a crowd is very uncomfortable for me, but I do it naturally in nearly every aspect of my life. I should be comfortable with it by now. What can I do?

Fake it till I make it? Repeat affirmations into the mirror every day? Watch footage of divas from days gone by and try to exemplify them? No. None of those are "Me".

Believe it. That's really what I have to learn to do. Just believe it. Basically, when it comes to my voice, I am searching for validation. Most other ares of my life, I feel much more confident. Yes, I believe that I possess a special voice - I just don't always believe that others will feel the same way. I think that I'm really a closet opera singer. I just pretend to do it in real life! Let's be honest here: I'm not insecure about my voice. I'm insecure about OTHERS and my voice. I know that *I* like it. But will they? Ohhhhhhh, it's all so complicated, and much more complicated than I'm blogging it to be. It's not a simple, "Oh, they might not like my voice. I'll be sad. Boo hoo." After so many years in this business, if that's all it was - well, I would've quit YEARS ago.

But maybe that's part of being an artist. Never really feeling satisfied. Never feeling complacent. Always striving for more. Always working on the craft in a relentless pursuit of "perfection". It's like asking the eternal "WHY". Or rather, singing the eternal "WHY".

Oh boy, I need to get over myself! SING OUT, LOUISE!!


Whitney Johnson said...

I enjoyed stumbling onto your blog today (through Nie's). I can relate to your thoughts and feelings so much! I've been a music educator (and singer) for many years, although for the last 5 or so, I'm diving into my crafty life. Stephanie taught yoga at the same studio that I teach classes at...anyway - you're not alone! Children sitting in front of me at church sometimes plug their ears when I'm behing them singing hymns. It's so funny! I guess I'm too loud for them (not sweet and breathy enough..hee hee). I live in NYC for two years being a Nanny back in the 80's. I'll always feel at home there. :)
Hope your singing went well (really, I'm sure you were wonderful). Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

i f***ing love your voice. yes, sing out louise! and don't worry about the pigs you may cast your pearls before.

Sheridan said...

It's so INTERESTING to read this! Especially since, in my humble opinion, you have one of the BEST voices in the ward! ...Ok, my real thought was that you have THE best voice, but I ammended my statement in case anyone else from Inwood 1 read that and was offended. BUT I'll take my chances.:) Yours is the best!

You really do have an amazing voice! And not just the voice, but the Spirit too! Thanks for sharing it in church!

Kendra Leigh said...

I love you, M-A!! Thanks for facing your *fears* head-on so that people like me can enjoy your voice! Matt has a theory also: Maybe you don't mind performing in front of an audience because it's anonymous- you're not on a first name basis with them and won't see them again. I guess that goes along with the *judgment* idea. That's why Matt is so scared to share his musical talents with anyone he knows. He still remembers the song you sang at a baptism one time and he loved it. So maybe we ARE judging you. But we're judging in your favor, so that can't be bad, right?
PS. I wish you were my neighbor!