Jazz artist Emily Braden shares how vocalists get hot and steamy again – with music.
Singing is that one thing for me.
It alters me chemically, rewrites my reality, enhances and romances me, cleanses and connects me, drugs, heals and soothes me, forgives and accepts me, intensifies and satisfies me.
Such a hold it has – and I am lucky to know such a love affair.
Yet, singing is not the easiest career path.
It’s easy to drift from that love; how do I get back to it?
See a Killer Show by an Inspiring Vocalist
Here I am struggling to make it in New York City after successful gigging careers in smaller towns.
There’s the pressure of being in a place saturated with good singers, trying to get gigs, pay my rent, hold down a part time job – and deal with all the negative messages one’s brain can send.
How do I get inspired?
I attend my “church”: a great vocal show at a cool venue.
When I am thrilled by someone else’s vocal performance, or instrumental performance for that matter, my inner voice says to me: ‘you’ve got to keep going, keep reaching for your dreams.’
Remind Myself of My Goals
I write down my goals in a journal – and I am very specific.
I write that I want to perform at particular venues, or that I want to be an opening act or a back-up singer for a specific group.
Being extremely clear about what you want opens you up to possibilities that are in line with your biggest dreams.
As one of a myriad of vocalists trying to make it in this city, it’s easy to feel so small in the huge world of music.
That’s why I name my goals, revisit them, check on my progress and remind myself of where I want to go.
(I also write down the negative stuff – it helps me to get it out of my system.)
Be a Sleuth with My Ego
I had an ‘A-ha’ moment the other day:
The same thing that tells us that we are better than others is the same thing that tells us that we are not good enough or we don’t deserve greatness.
The ego tells us whatever is necessary to protect us from a sometimes hard reality.
Isn’t the greatest enemy between us and our dreams found within?
When I feel unworthy, I try to be quiet, look at my ego and examine the messages that keep me from personal progress.
When I took my part time job speaking Spanish in a nursing home, my ego said, ‘You are a performer; what the hell are you doing here? Look how far you’ve fallen.’
When I got in touch with my inner voice, I heard more creative message:
‘All experiences enrich my music.’
When I am on stage, I connect with people — I also connect with them here at this nursing home.
These genuine one-on-one connections inspire me with new lyrics and musical ideas.
An Affair that Lasts for Life
I don’t want just a one-night stand with my vocal work.
After all, a great affair, one that is life-long, is a many splendored thing:
I focus on how to promote my album, exercise, voice lessons, writing song ideas, getting art supplies for my new album design, submitting for the Theolonius Monk Jazz competition – there’s so many sides to my musical life and each day I can ‘date’ a different side.
I don’t always need to be on stage.
But I always need to be in love.
Vocalist, composer and lyricist Emily Braden grew up in Boise, Idaho. She currently lives in New York City and is preparing for the US release of her debut album Soul Walk in the spring of 2011.