Back to Basics

This year got off to a rather jolting start. I decided to listen to my CD from my September 23 recital.

My overall reaction?

I. Hated. It.

Now, I usually hate listening to recordings, at least initially, and then when I’ve had some distance, I listen and say, “Oh, that’s actually quite good.” And with a few years distance, I’ll say, “Damn. That’s good singing!” (I have the same reaction to papers and articles I’ve written – I read them a few years later and think, “Geez, I can write!)

But this was different. This was an “OH MY G*D WHAT HAVE I DONE?” kind of response.

I like to think I’m self-aware, and that I know when I’m off-track vocally. I’m not, at least right now, and I didn’t. And then I thought, “Have I ever been? Was I really as good as I thought?”

So I went back to listen to some of those older recordings and realized that yes, yes, I was. Correction: Yes, I am.

So I’ve figured out that I’ve fallen off the track because of my explorations into musical theater and cabaret. While I love those genres, especially the creativity of cabaret, I don’t think they’re benefiting my voice right now. And they’re not benefiting what I’ve been trained to do and what I have done, quite well, for many years. And they are not representing me as a singer. This is one of the reasons that I think I have fallen through the cracks in the last 9 years – I have not presented myself as a classical singer. People don’t know what I am and they’re not all that willing to find out. I need to re-present myself as the singer that I really am so that people will want to come hear me sing and will want to work with me because I’m really good at that style. I’m a great classical singer (speaking in the present tense, because I will fix this) and I’m just an okay MT singer. It’s time for people to know this. Again.

So effective immediately, although I will still continue to love cabaret and musical theater, and to teach it and to explore the best technical methods of doing so, in my own life, I am returning to my roots and going back to basics. I am going to practice the way I encourage my students to practice, focusing on getting my technical skills where they were when I got distracted by A Cudahy Carolers Christmas in 2003 (which, while it was fun, was probably the biggest career error I made).

Like Chris Mann said on The Voice the other night, “I’ve tried to shrink my voice down to fit in…. I decided for this show I was just going to sing like myself.”

Yeah. Me too.