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10 Ways to Focus on Singing Success

What is it in your singing career that drives you forward, are you striving for fame or success? – asks Tessa Niles.

Fame and success are most definitely not the same thing

Fame is defined as ‘the state of being known by many people’ whereas success is defined as ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose’.

The notion of fame has displaced careers.

Why then, does there seem to be a blurring of the meanings?

Studies dating back to 2007 show that kids want to be famous rather than choosing to be doctors, policemen or teachers. It seems that the notion of fame has displaced these careers.

Perhaps the reason is because children see their pop, acting and sporting heroes on television and are lured by the constant depictions of glamour and excitement. Does this, in turn, narrow the dictate of what talent is and the essential ingredients for success?

T.V ’s glamourisation of fame isn’t about to go away anytime soon but you’d hope that by the time these same kids are choosing careers some of these myths about fame would have been dispelled.

So, to be truly committed to being a performer you must ask yourself if, as an adult, you view fame as the same thing as success.

My top tips to focus on singing success

  1. Continuously feed the passion that will sustain you when things are moving slowly.
  2. Set yourself concrete goals and be determined to work hard. If you’re passed over but you’ve done the best job possible, the outcome is easier to live with. Knowing that your failure to prepare set you up to fail – is not!
  3. Understand the difference between needs and wants. You may want those new shoes but you gotta eat. Stay in control of your finances.
  4. Know that what you perceive as a bump in the road could also be a stepping stone. Things are not always what they seem, so seek advice for a different perspective. That way your choices will be well-informed.
  5. Success is never letting a disability hold you back.
  6. Learn to overcome fear because it will relentlessly attempt to highjack you. F.E.A.R HAS TWO MEANINGS: FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN or FACE EVERYTHING AND RISE.
  7. Learn that sometimes you have to say no. Not every job will be right for you. Validate your gut feeling and move on.
  8. Maintain a healthy balance of work and play.
  9. Success is being able to do something over and over again. “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out” – Robert Collier
  10. Losing a few battles can help you win the war. You often learn more from difficulties so become resilient and quickly move on from setbacks.

Oprah Winfrey said “if you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define you”

I say, write your own success story…


My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry

Nel Begley Nel Begley - Lover Man

Right from the get go it’s clear that Nel understands the genre. Her a cappella interpretation allows the listener to imagine where this performance could go. She has an instinctive feel for jazz and a sincere delivery. In this clip, with no musical accompaniment, it’s a challenge to stretch out with no supporting instrumentation and I would have liked to hear the song progress a little more. I’d like to know if Nel can vocally turn up the power. She demonstrates that she’s more than capable of connecting with the essence of a song and makes it her own.

Why I chose Nel Begley as a Finalist

I choose Nel Begley as the winner because:
a. She has made the song her own despite it being accapella and therefore I think shows artist potential.
b. She is comfortable and authentic performing in this genre.
c. There is a huge difference between learning a few characteristics of a genre and truly
understanding it. Nel has the potential to grow as a Jazz singer


Tessa NilesTessa Niles first entered the music scene in 1981 and has since become one of the best known session singers of the past three decades. Her first big break came when Sting asked her to join The Police on the Synchronicity world tour. With her versatile voice and ability to blend within a myriad of styles, Tessa has hundreds of recording credits and live appearances to her name.Tessa has recently turned author with her first book, a memoir titled ‘Backtrack’ – the voice behind music’s greatest stars. Recently described as ‘the most famous person you’ve probably never heard of’ Tessa proves that you can still shine brightly whilst in the background. www.tessaniles.com | www.backtrackbook.com