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Inside a Touring Backing Vocalist’s Gig Bag

Me'sha on Stage

Me’sha Bryan has worked with Beverley Knight, Groove Armada, The Australian Pink Floyd Show amongst many others, and coaches for The Voice UK and now, The Voice Kids UK.

Fresh from her tour with Bryan Ferry, she reveals the contents of her gig bag for Voice Council.

Water bottle

Obviously, water is very important when performing to keep the voice hydrated. I start sipping at least 20 minutes before my warm up and make sure my bottle’s refilled for sound check and the gig.

My bottle is glass so it’s BPA free but has a rubber outer so if I were to drop it, it’s a little more protected and would reduce potential shattering. I also think water tastes better out of glass vessels making the intake more of a pleasant experience as I’d rather be having a Ribena!

Steamer

My steamer has saved my life on so many occasions! I rarely do gigs in the UK so I do a lot of air travel. I always get off planes with a dry voice so am straight to my hotel room for a steam and a sit-down.

The inhaler fits nicely around my nose and mouth and I sit and inhale deeply for around 20 minutes. As it’s electric, the heat is consistent and the steam really helps to hydrate the voice and clear the airways.

I also have a battery operated nebuliser which is smaller and much more portable which I use on the go.

Me'sha Bryan's gig bag

The contents of Me’sha Bryan’s gig bag

Lyrics

I’ve usually memorised the entire set before I get to the first rehearsal but I carry a scroll of lyrics with me just in case the artist I’m working with decides to perform a different version of a certain song.

When learning sets, I print out the lyrics in the same layout and font to make sure that I have a connection with what I’m singing. I learn visually, aurally and kinesthetically so having the paper in my hands is key to me learning songs thoroughly.

Stage outfit

It’s important to look and feel great on stage. The outfit pictured is one I’d wear for a Bryan Ferry gig as we’re having a playsuit phase. It has a bit of sparkle which is very Bryan as he’s ultra glamorous and the shoes are classy, sparkly yet comfortable.

It’s paramount that you wear something comfy on stage and that you reflect the style of the artist you’re working for so you can concentrate on the job at hand without worrying about potentially flashing anyone!

In-ear monitors

Some artists I work for prefer monitors, others prefer in-ears. I’ve had artists change their mind mid sound check so I always bring mine along just in case.

I had them specially moulded by Hand Held Audio and they’re very comfy. The isolation is fantastic and being able to get your own, individual mix is great too. I often wear one in and one out as I quite enjoy hearing the vibe of the audience and a little bit of myself acoustically at the same time.

It’s best to become comfortable using monitors as well as in-ears as you never know what may happen.

Elmo

I bought Elmo on the first tour I ever did in 2004. I picked him up in Chicago and he’s been touring with me ever since.

My nieces and nephews love him and when they come to visit me back home, they always ask for him. Being on the road for a long time can make you homesick so he’s my little bit of comfort, a reminder of home and always puts a smile on my face at the end of a long day.


  • keith

    fantastic insight into the nuts and bolts of being a pro, thanks for the tour of your gig-bag.

  • Me’sha Bryan

    My pleasure Keith! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Take care, Me’sha

  • myrna robinson

    ha mesha what you doing these days