This show was inspired by the fact that I’ve been a little anxious over the past couple of weeks at the thought of singing at my school music soiree. Actually, it scares me more than anything else. Standing up in front of all those people knowing I’ll probably sound like a drowning cat, makes me break out in hives. It’s a bit of a fear for me even though I’ve happily danced in front of hundreds of people for years and I’ve been pretty comfortable with singing musical theatre – but for some reason, this just stresses me out.
I’ve been asked to prepare Landslide with only acoustic guitar accompaniment and of course, it’s a song I truly love but come on – me singing Stevie? It makes no sense to me. Anyway, I’ve been rehearsing a bit and taking inspiration from all my favourite female vocalists, to try and get me over the line. So I put together a playlist of not only my favourites, but other female vocalists who I admire for different reasons. And there’s a definite rock influence there – it’s the style I would like to perform myself.
School singing tuition does my head in a bit. I want to be there because I want to learn and improve and become a stronger vocalist but there just seems to be this huge emphasis on learning to sing songs that really don’t suit my voice and songs I can’t connect with. And I get it’s all part of the learning process, but I feel like I’m only learning to sing really badly.
In dancing terms, I’d refer to these songs as “lyrical / contemporary” – songs with angsty emotion, maybe a painful story, something you really need to portray when you dance through your body, movement and expression. But the thing is, singing is very different to dancing. Sure it’s all performing but how I see it is that you can be an average technical dancer and still tell the story and effect people with your expression and connection and by bringing in your own personal experiences and interpretations. It’s like that whole scene from Napoleon Dynamite.
With singing, if you open your mouth and sound like crap – there’s really no going back from that.
I really admire singers at school who can go in there and sing all the songs young people want to hear. Rhianna, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Lorde, Jessie J, Demi Lovato – these are the artists young people want to hear and they’ve given us the lyrics young people identify with today. And that’s fine – they’re absolutely amazing artists but they’re just not me and they don’t represent how I want to express myself musically.
If I had to pick the female artists who influence me the most – I’d go with Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, Shirley Manson, Wendy James and Alanis Morrisette – so clearly, singing songs like “Stay” by Rhianna is going to annoy me. Nice song and all but the moral of the story is that I’m not the type to beg anyone to stay so why the hell would I want to sing about it?
One quote really stood out to me and I used it in the show. It was from Pat Benatar, talking about her transition from musical theatre to rock music. Of course, I don’t have to worry about the bit about being overly technical, but it was the rest of the quote that really affected me.
“I was 22 by the time I started to sing rock, so at first I was overly technical. That proved to be inhibiting so it was a disadvantage until I began to sing intuitively. That’s the only way to sing rock – from your gut level feelings. It’s the instinct that the best singers have”.
And that’s how it’s done.
Anyway, back to the show! I think it was a good list. A bit of variety, different ages and styles and definitely different influences. Other than the artists I mentioned above, I also featured Dolly Parton, Cyndi Lauper, Gwen Stefani, Dusty Springfirled, Lily Allen and quite a few more so maybe you just need to have a listen for yourself.
Click on the link below for a listen and get your rock chick on!