Road To Artistic Greatness
by Chris Standring
the song with honesty and open yourself up to the soul
watched a fabulous masterclass recently on PBS hosted
by a vocal teacher at a music school. I wish I could
remember who it was who gave the seminar (answers on
a postcard please!) as it put much of my thoughts into
perspective on a subject I am constantly fascinated
host had each of her students sing a song and then commented
on their performance. One particular student sang and
her immediate response was,
know you can sing well, but if you could just get past
the singing we might all have a connection with you!"
What an amazing insight. This is something I come across
all the time listening to singers and musicians, but
never have I heard it put so articulately. Let me explain
exactly what she meant by this;
artists may be technical experts. You know, vocalists
able to do all the acrobatic licks, guitar players able
to sweep arpeggios up the yin yang. But at the end of
the day, these are merely tools. Too many musicians
have a desperate (and very often subconscious) need
to show their peers that they are indeed great and that
they can compete with the biggest stars. However, many
struggling artists get caught in this trap and this
competetiveness can be a major stumbling block in the
road to their success.
do we have to "get past the singing"? Because
we need to live the song. This means literally forgetting
everything you ever learned (yet having trust and faith
in your abilities) and becoming vulnerable and giving
in completely to the song you are singing. Deliver the
song with honesty and open yourself up to the soul zone,
you know that "other place" we all want to
get to when we get lost in a performance. That place
doesn't always materialize and it is usually because
we are too "conscious" of our surroundings,
our audience and our insecurities.
is a tough thing to "get past the singing".
How many singers have you heard that want to sound like
Aretha Franklin? Or Ella Fitzgerald or Chaka Khan? They
have learned all those stereo-typed R&B licks and
they can kick butt with the best of 'em. It's like a
boxing match. But listen to Aretha, Ella and Chaka and
there's simply never a contest going on. They are not
trying to compete. Why? because they are simply doing
what they do - and boy can they do it! Of course there
were years of practice, no one can simply sing like
that without some degree of work, but when you hear
them it's about the song - not about the singing. Joni
Mitchell, Diana Krall, Bjork. There's something else
going on - something from within.
want to communicate - that is what we are on this earth
to do. There are a million great singers, guitarists,
sax players. But not so many true artists. It is also
important to remember that the general public has not,
for the most part, had a musical training. They do not
hear harmony. They simply respond to what they like.
And what makes them respond is that little bit of magic
that emanates from a vulnerable artist delivering a
song - telling a personal story.
with this new approach I believe comes a true uniqueness
as the artist explores his or her own inner feelings,
qualities and life experiences and forgets about emulating
heroes. Heroes are important, after all they are what
initially inspired us. But if we want to be artists
we have to move on and discover ourselves. And at the
end of the day this is what all record companies are
looking for. Unique and great artists.
Standring is the CEO and founder of A&R Online (www.aandronline.com).
He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed
to Mesa/Bluemoon Records. The music is marketed at NAC
and Urban AC radio. For more info on Chris' recording
career go to his personal website at www.chrisstandring.com