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Thursday, October 29, 2015

When are you Too Old to Sing?

Hi there,

I had my 25th birthday while living in Japan, where I was singing with cover bands and writing songs. The Japanese always seemed obsessed with age to me. On meeting someone new, the questions would invariably be, in this order: "Where are you from?" and "How old are you?" When I answered '25' to the latter they would breath a sigh of relief and say: "Well that's OK then, still young". After experiencing this over and over I asked a hip Japanese friend what was going on. She explained that many Japanese people believed a woman was like a Christmas cake. Oh. Well I'm glad I asked... Luckily she elaborated, after an embrassed silence. "A Woman is like a Christmas cake because like the cake, after the 25th she is considered to be past her use-by date". Yes I can hear your gasps from here - shocking isn't it! So imagine my surprise when recently I find out that a current JPop (Top 40 Japanese Pop) Star is a girl by the name of Namie Amuro. Astonishing because guess who was a major JPop star when I lived in Japan all those years ago - the same 'girl'. So she is now 37 years old! Now don't forget we are talking Top 40 Pop! In Japan!

So are things changing? If an ageist society accepts a 37 year old as a Popstar then surely anyone can! A friend asked me recently, 'How long do you think you can keep singing?' It's not as if I haven't asked myself this question many times before. 

Putting aside all the Strolling Bones jokes, have you actually seen The Stones perform in recent times? That famous Jagger strut is still in fine shape and the whole band sounds rocking. There seems to have been a resurgence of late, of 'legendary' artists on tour and most of them are still getting rave reviews. There have also, of course, been past stars wheeled out again that have crashed and burned. I'm pretty sure I know why some heritage acts still have it and some don't. I'm no pedagog but I know that if I don't do any singing training or actual performing for more than a week, I can feel the muscles weaken. The Stones have never stopped doing what they do. Stars of the '80s who became stockbrokers or drug dealers when their starlight faded, only to jump on the Retro bandwagon more than 20 years later, can't expect to have the same skills they did in their heyday. Because they didn't keep it up. They didn't keep the muscles working.

Well that's me covered then. I have no intention of taking off more than a week here and there - I miss it way too much. So in decades to come when someone points out the 'little old lady with the (insert bright colour here) hair, wearing the sequins', you can say: "Oh that's Amanda, she's getting ready for a gig."

Till next time,