Diary of a Soundless Singer: October 17, 2019
So, here I am on day one of total vocal rest. I am truly not sure how this is supposed to work as I have to teach 3 Music Together classes Friday and Saturday and then have a gig Saturday night. Everything I do to pay my bills depends on my voice and here I have run it into the ground, requiring me to rest and consequently re-evaluate things.
For the past six or seven years, I have spent a lot of time in bars playing cover tunes to a crowd of people who many times view me as a human juke box. That is not to say that along the way there haven’t been rooms and crowds that have surprised me, creating an incredible exchange of energy. And there are those people who come to almost every gig and have been crazy supportive. Those who sing a long when I throw in a rare original. But for the most part, I’ve been pouring my voice, fingers, heart and soul into playing songs for people who will most likely never even look to see my name, let alone sign a mailing list, buy a cd or seek me out again. All this for a pay rate that in most cases is pretty close to what it was when friends of mine were doing this 20 years ago.
Playing these gigs has been both good and bad for me. Good in that i’ve developed as a singer, guitar player and even songwriter by interpreting other artist’s work. It has allowed me to keep making and teaching music as a full time job, as I am there to entertain the patrons who are there, not necessity fill the room on my own. But on some levels it has been a negative. As an original artist it’s my job to get on stage and deliver a show. To put forth my creations in an engaging way. To lose myself in service to the music. To demand your attention by creating an experience. But these last few years have left me confused as to who I am as an artist and performer. When, in many cases, it is my task to blend into the atmosphere, to take up as little space as possible, to not be too loud, to not expect people to pay attention let alone acknowledge the performance, it has served to make me less confident in my ability to command a room, to be comfortable “performing”. It has led me to place less value on my own passion- writing and performing the original music that has made up the vast majority of my 20 year journey as a musician.
I’m not just writing this to whine. I swear. I’m writing this because after much soul searching, my path forward needs to be a return to focusing on original music and performance. To rediscovering who I am as a writer and artist. 2020 will be year of much change for me- I hope. I will be looking to book more original shows, house concerts (more about these to come soon), write and release more music and lose myself once again in the art of creating. My bank account will undoubtedly require those cover gigs that have become my bread and butter over the last several years, but I hope to get smarter about charging in accordance with my value, working smarter as opposed to harder in hopes of avoiding total vocal shut down again in the future.
So please stay tuned. The next few months will be busy with research and planning - writing, working on a new original show, laying the ground work for what I hope will be a very creative 2020. I appreciate every single one of you who has ever come to any of my shows, downloaded a song, bought a cd or T-shirt, sent me an email, liked a FB post or said a kind word in support. You will be hearing from me more often and I’m excited to see where my path leads xo -Jenn