Singers’ block

August 29, 2009

I’ve been depressed again about singing. I start to work on some vocalises and then just burst into tears, so aware of every imperfection, every lost micron of What Used To Be. Let’s just say I’m not aging gracefully. This December I turn 42—past my prime, vocally speaking, and with no direction for what comes next.

I go through these cycles periodically, where I have to question (in the words of Talking Heads), “Well, how did I get here?” When A. left Kaia a few years ago, I had a major episode of this sort of thing. I was born to sing, raised to head for Broadway, I was going to be a star, oh blah blah blah. And here I was in this tiny little town putting on tiny little shows for tiny little audiences and having no impact in the way I’m so hungry for.

Woe be I! Sniffles. It was during part of that cycle that I came to my artistic credo: To create transformative experiences for people through the performing arts. But how to do that?

I catalogue my skills and they seem mostly…I don’t know, non-singer-y? I mean, I can carry a tune and all that, but the things that make me stand out in Kaia are things like arranging a tune, crafting a setlist (creating experiences) and being able to listen to the different voices while singing. I don’t think I add that much to the group vocally; I could be replaced with a high mezzo and leave it at that.

But the larger issue is really whether I’m losing the quality of my instrument through age and poor use. And that makes me very sad indeed. Janiece and I did impromptu ritual at my last lesson because I burst into tears with our second vocalise. My mantra is to be, “I am living my next/new life in this body.” I accept that the old is gone and I am here now, present and accounted for. She drew some tarot cards and placed The Empress at the center. Isis. (Just got back from the Indy Tut exhibit last weekend and my goddessdaughter was calling me “Tante Cairril Isis” one day.)

I appreciate the need to refine the technical aspects of my voice but part of me just wants to sing with abandon. To sing with total abandon. To sing because I am made to sing. Because I Am. To sing is to be; to be is to sing. I just wish it sounded better! 🙂

If nothing else, I know I’m a good performer and can put on a good show. I pay a lot of attention to the audience and can adjust delivery based on where they’re coming from. Is that enough? My breaking heart says no, that I want my delicious, juicy, young voice back—the voice that could do anything I asked of it.

I don’t know my path and can’t find my way. I pray my voice will be mine again at some point, and fully an expression of my artistic and spiritual self.

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Lotus—it’s real!

August 20, 2009

Today Kaia got the official word from Lee Williams–we are singing at Lotus! We have a Friday night gig from 8 to 8:45. Saturday night is a long set from 8:45 to 10pm.

On Saturday we’ll also be giving a workshop on world music at Lotus in the Park. The workshop is an interactive exploration of what shapes world music and what to listen for at Lotus. That sounds really dry but it won’t be.

So I’m avoiding the important bit—how does all this make me feel? Excited. Terrified. And deeply grateful. This is something I’ve wanted since I went to the first Lotus, lo those many years ago. I wanted to be a part of it, to sing, to perform—even if it were on some street corner! And now my chance has come. Funny how this old world keeps spinning around.

My terror is that something will go Horribly Awry. Like we’ll make some massive mistake or series of mistakes. That we won’t be able to stick together. That we’ll be too tired to pull off the Saturday night set. That I’ll make massive mistakes and everyone will know. That no one will come. That everyone will come.  That we won’t be able to reach the audience. That…that…oh, I don’t know, that a meteor will hit. See how many things could go wrong???

The joyful part is imagining feeling confident and excited and really connecting with the audience, no matter what the circumstances. I love that give and take. Anyone who thinks an audience is passive just isn’t paying attention! The “audience” is just as important as the “artists” in creating the overall experience. Lotus audiences are generous and loving. They’re having such a good time that they can’t help themselves!

I remember when my sister came to Lotus and observed, “This is what community is supposed to be like.” And I’ve always felt that there is no bad at Lotus—only good. I can only hope that we give back as much as we’ve taken over the years, so that we can be a wonderful part of that tapestry.

In the meantime, I’ve got some memorizing to do! 🙂


Bloomingplays I survival

August 15, 2009

I know I’ve been silent in the blogosphere lately but…well, I don’t have a good excuse, only lies, lies, lies. So let’s just move on, shall we?

I survived the Bloomingplays workshop, which is a feat in itself, since it’s two all-day workshops. It was fascinating. I hadn’t expected to say anything, since I’m not an experienced playwright, but it turned out that I had plenty of opinions (this will surprise no one).

The feedback on Kindred was really helpful. Lori took lots of notes, while I slacked and just recorded what everybody said. There was some wild controversy about the ending (OK, not wild), which presented some good stuff for us to think about.

But you don’t care about that—you want me to talk about the phone sex scene! All right, all right. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I’m also certain that I absolutely sucked (no pun intended). I put one hand over my eyes like the lights were bothering me and then just leaned over the script. I interpreted it as a woman who was not fully comfortable with the scenario yet, because…well, I can’t tell you, since that would give away a key plot point. Regardless, I survived! And I hope never to do it again. Margot, the facilitator for that play, was very supportive and I appreciated it muchly.

The table readings were very fun. I love hearing a play come alive as the actors begin to bounce off each other and interact through their characters. It was also interesting  to see how the different playwrights accepted or refused to accept suggestions for their pieces. One person asked for lots of feedback and had great questions for the audience, but then made it clear that he wouldn’t change anything in the play! WTF?? There was much gossip about that, which in itself was educational.

Tracy Bee gave a party Saturday night that ended up with just a handful of people in her living room (lots of the actors had rehearsals they had to go to—I can’t imagine the stamina that must take!). I was glad, since this is my favorite kind of party. I started to go unconscious about 10, though, so I ran to Marsh to get food for the next day’s workshop and then collapsed at home, my brain buzzing with thoughts of the day. Thank you, BPP!