Founder and CEO of el-live Productions
Have you ever walked into a venue and seen performers that seemed to be in a trance as they were feeling every note and meant every word as they were singing?
Unfortunately, many singers have the habit of simply learning lyrics and melodies and when they perform their material, they don’t blend the two. This results in just words and notes flying by – simply going through the motion, like being on “automatic pilot”, and even being robotic. They’re missing the point.
Anecdote: A while back I was rehearsing a new Singer for el-live Productions. She was singing an “angry ballad”. The storyline: man cheats on his woman, she’s hurt, angry, and bitter. But our Singer was performing it in a sensual, borderline “sexual” manner. Her entire demeanor was wrong for the song. So I asked her to stop, to take a moment to internalize the story. I made her read the lyrics a few times until she “got the plot”. I asked: “What’s the story”? Once she got it, she immediately realized her mistake and said: “well now I’m pissed off”, and we had a good laugh. On her next take, she got into character and what a difference – you could feel her delivering the message, and it was amazing.
Think of some of the top artists such as Sade, Michael Buble, James Brown to name a few. Clearly, they are Masters at creating a vibe. Sade is sensuality, candles, a glass of wine, intimacy. Buble is dinner, cigars, whiskey, conversation. James Brown is a full-on party, dancing, high energy, and funky as Hell!
Go check out some live bands – very important – analyze, observe the Singer and the band as a whole. Listen to the story, the melody, feel the groove, watch the facial expressions on the Singer’s face… Do you feel emotionally charged in any way? or do you feel indifferent, disconnected, and unmoved regardless of the musical style?
As a singer, your responsibility is to learn a song in its entirety meaning, read the story, then, learn the lyrics, then, sing the song. Once done, you can engage, energize, excite much easier because you know what the hell you’re doing. The more you practice being authentic and credible, the less you will have to work at performing. If you can’t achieve that, what’s the point of working so hard only to receive so little in return? In the end, everyone misses out on the experience, the journey, the beauty of your craft, and of the songs that you sing.
The lesson here is to not simply learn a bunch of “words and notes” in a given sequence, but rather to stop and to internalize the story, to captivate your audience’s attention by triggering an array of emotions, beginning with yourself; the Singer. Now, take your audience on your journey, and create wonderful memories that will entice them to come back time and time again.
Make somebody happy.