I'm doing a lot of exciting stuff this year, but it's hard to beat the buzz of singing with a 100-piece contemporary choir!
The show is a celebration of 70s music and along with The Mighty VU, I'll be sharing the stage with my great mate Givvi Flynn, who has recently be seen gracing stage and studio with the likes of The Wildhearts, Jackdaw 4 and Wolfsbane. She's nothing if not versatile!
Also joining us is fab Elvis tribute Kevin Paul. Anyone who knows me knows I'm an Elvis fan, so I'm a bit picky about tribute acts... this guy's fab!
Come in yer best 70s clobber and we pretty much reckon you'll be swingin' your flares in the aisles by the end of the night.
Booking details below! It'd be great to see you there - join me, Givvi and Elvis for a drink in the bar afterwards. Uh huh huh.
Alright, there's no need to shout!
I've been to a couple of great gigs this weekend. Both featured clients of mine, doing their very cool thing. In posts elsewhere, I have already given them a big shout-out, so that other people can enjoy their music too. In none of those posts did I say "oh by the way these people are MY clients who I trained and I am therefore responsible for their awesomeness. Because frankly, that attitude sucks.
Singing teachers are no more responsible for their very talented students' successes than they are responsible for the shortcomings of the less able. Our job is to teach people how to make the most of their voices, to guide them, to show them the best techniques known to us at any given moment, and then to celebrate whatever successes and achievements come their way. Our job is not to use those successes as cheap advertising...
The fact is, if you're good at what you do as a teacher, there should be no need to shout about it. Advertise, sure; have a decent marketing strategy, certainly; network and make people aware of the services that you offer, by all means. But when your advertising and marketing strategy involves rubbishing your competitors or industry colleagues, or publishing endless videos of your top students, or endless videos of yourself in all your awesomeness, it's all gone a bit too far, for me.
The simple fact is, if you feel the need to shout from the rooftops on constant repeat about how awesome you are, then you're not. If you're really great, others will do your shouting for you.
Just a backing singer?
I was working with someone recently who was telling me about her performance history, and in the course of the conversation she used the expression "just a backing singer". Being a polite sort (usually!) I didn't say anything, but actually, I was horrified...
What do we mean when we say 'backing singer'? (Or what my American friends would call 'background vocalists'). Well, what my colleague meant was 'someone who isn't "good enough" to sing lead, and who wails a bit when harmonies are called for.' That isn't a backing singer. Trust me.
What I mean when I say 'backing singer' is something else entirely. See that picture on the left? Do you know who these people are? Let's take the one in the middle. Her name's Portia and I had the privilege of singing alongside her (and the other two!) on tour in 2005. So what's she ever done to write home to mother about? You may well ask. Let's have a look at a list of some of the people for whom she's been "just a backing singer":
k d lang
Hall & Oates
Need I go on? Oh and the other two? Hmm, well that would be Estelle Brown and Myrna Smith. They have CVs that would make your eyes water. Those backup vocals on Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl"? That would be them. And they sang with an artist throughout the early 70s about 1100 times, and on all of his major hits of the time. His name was Elvis Presley, you may have heard of him.
So what's my point?
Simply, that backing singers - those people usually wearing black and positioned behind the 'name' that you've rocked up to watch - are often as skilled as, and sometimes considerably more skilled than that 'name'. A great backing singer, one who knows his or her craft, has huge musicality, the ability to mimic, harmonise and blend, the capacity to sing in a wide range of styles, massive performance chops, can often sight-read AND could step up to the lead mic and blow your head off with their skill if asked to.
So next time you think that someone is "just a backing singer", you might stop to wonder who they are and exactly how much skill is being put into standing behind someone else and making them look good.
my castle, my game, my rules
My occasional thoughts, rants, updates and perspectives various. Definitely not the opinions of the BBC.