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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm a Which? I'm a Singer, I'm a Writer, I'm an 'Other'?

Aka 'Cover Bands Suck'

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a singer. I was persuaded pretty early on that singing should be considered as just a hobby, so it wasn't until my early 20s that I grew a backbone and did something about it. At that stage all I cared about was getting up in front of people and actually singing - and ideally having them like it. I was hugely envious of the duo at a local restaurant - they were actually getting paid to sing in front of people. I left my upwardly spiralling career in Public Relations. Microsoft Australia was my main client and they couldn't believe I'd leave them for the uncertain world of music. After a few months of said uncertainty (and Dad asking on a weekly basis 'Have you got a 'gig' yet?') I found myself in regular singing work and actually getting paid for it! Now have you ever noticed how your heart's desire, once realised, becomes simply a stepping stone to the next, even greater desire? So now the aim was to write, perform and record my own songs, be not just a singer, but a...wait for it - artist! Artiste? 

I did get to achieve my new heart's desire, still doing it, but I still 'just sing' too. I've talked about it before, but there's an amazing snobbery around singing covers, ie other people's songs. We definitely need to support new, original art whether it be music, theatre, literature etc, otherwise culture becomes stagnant. But I think there is a place for performance of all types. Even if that involves my third rendition of 'I Will Survive' this week thank you very much. 

I remember earlier on in my career being introduced to another singer-songwriter at a party. We naturally talked about our music and then he asked 'What do you do for a living?' because it is a rare person indeed who can make a decent living from their own music. I said proudly 'I'm a singer.' Suddenly I had a communicable disease going by my companion's reaction. He waxed lyrical about selling out, selling soul, selling just about everything - this is what I was charged with because I sang other people's songs? This was the first (of many) times I had come across this reaction and I wondered how he made his honourable, principled crust. 'I paint houses,' he said. Oh.

Of course, I've experienced the other side too. There have been more occasions than I'd like to count where I've been pouring my heart and soul into the performance of one of my self-penned tunes only to be interrupted by 'Do ya know 'Eye of the Tiger'?' from an enthusiastic audience member.

Anyway, I came across an interesting blog by Artist Manager (among other things) Corie Anziano on covers vs originals and there was quite a bit of heated commentary too. 

By the way, on that 'supporting original music' topic, I'm performing some brand new tunes at Lizotte's in Dee Why on Wednesday November 9 and El Rocco Jazz Cellar on Friday November 18...both fabulous Sydney venues - would sure be great to see you there!

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