In a few days, I'll head up to NJ - the land where my sister lives, where the bagels are epic (I promise not to use that word much longer) and the roads are crap. I will cross the Bagel/Biscuit Line on Friday (AKA Mason Dixon Line) and peddle my wares and my art to anyone willing to listen. I love performing. I didn't always though. I used to be so terrified to get up on stage, my knees literally knocked together. There were a few things that changed all that - thank God. One was working with the uber-talented performance coach Beth Anne Musiker here in Nashville. She helped me to think of my songs as just stories to be told to the audience. Stop worrying about how I sounded to them and just focus on the message. Somehow, that clicked for me. Second was playing at Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 2009 and participating in the New Folk competition. I was terrified beyond measure, but I was SO accepted and welcomed into the folk community (I had never even been to TX before) that I relaxed my usual anxious clenched heart and let go. It changed me. Thirdly, it was life itself and the rolling progression of age that has helped me settle down into my itchy skin and relax. Now, I just feel grateful to be singing at all and eager to make new connections. Who knew I actually liked people? I was so shy as a kid.
Maybe audiences think of performers as narcissistic ego-driven fame whores. Maybe not. Some performers are. No doubt. You certainly have to have some amount of confidence to get up there and think what you have to say is worth hearing. I'd like to think I have something to say. I'd love to think that other people want to hear it. I think audiences can see through bullshit. I think performing without authenticity feels awful - like wearing a hideous dress that someone else picked out for you. I think the key is to not "try" so much, but just be there. Let the songs and the performance be what it is - whatever the best you have in you - whatever the song requires. So, be gentle with me out there and I promise that I will always be present in the performance and try to reach you through the song.
When I wrote my song "Singing My Heart Out" (which will be on the new CD!), the line in the chorus regarding singing - "Like breathing in time with God" - just came out of nowhere and landed hard on the page. I kept looking at it and thinking...that's a weird phrase. I should take that out. Yeah, but it just showed up. Maybe I should trust that. I trust music. I trust that it is truly a common language. It is heard best with the heart - not the mind. Now its one of my favorite lines, but I didn't write it.
See you in New England~