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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

8 Things Pop Singers can Learn from Cabaret

Hi there,

You may have heard about my love of the old-school entertainment values in cabaret. In the world of pop and rock, where I mostly reside, cabaret can be a dirty word. It shouldn't be! Here's what I think pop can learn from cabaret...some of these are my notes to self!

1. Arrive an hour before the gig starts
How many rock gigs have I done where a singer has turned up just in time to grab the mic and sing the first song? Not cool!

2. Dress appropriately
I'm going to sound like a cranky Gen Xer here, but when did dressing with just a bandaid across our bits become OK? 
Appropriate dress for a B&D gig!
Singing in a nightclub? Well, get 'em out a little, perhaps. Singing at a wedding? Some respect please - mystery can be sexy too! 

3. Sing for the audience, not just yourself. 
aka 'If they want 'Brown-eyed Girl' give it to them! 
When we're hired for a covers gig, we're hired to entertain a specific audience. Of course we want to enjoy it too but if we play obscure indie b-sides just to show how hip we are, then we're not doing the job properly. Unless the audience are all sick man! scenesters of course.

4. Work the stage
I know music went through a fashionable shoe-gazing moment, but not for me - then, I've never been cool! Of course, great rocks acts ride the mic stands and pose on the foldback wedges - in any genre it's a good thing to work that floor baby!

5. Connect with the audience
The difference between a video and a live show is the lack of a fourth wall. At the risk of sounding new-agey, I think performers should connect with an audience - talking, eye contact, and even - God forbid - smiling!

6. Mic technique-dynamics
Years of performing in front of loud bands on stage made me into the type of singer that delivered at the highest volume all the time - just so that I could be heard. It was all about 'kissing the mic'. Cabaret set-ups allow the singer to use dynamics. I've had to re-learn mic technique, pulling the mic away on that big note, whispering sweet nothings into it at the tender moments. 
7. Work to a time
Everyone knows that an 8 o'clock rock show starts at about 9pm right? In cabaret you usually work to a specific time frame and the start and finish times tend to be accurate within the space of minutes.

8. Know your charts/arrangements
I love that in cabaret it's expected that you're familiar with how your tunes go, you know, important stuff like what keys they're in or how many times you repeat the chorus at the end. To be on the same page as your band is what it's all about! 

Btw, if you want to see me (completely out of my depth) try my hard at cabaret, please come along to the 10th Annual Cabaret Showcase at The El Rocco Room (Bar Me) 154 Brougham St, cnr William St, Kings Cross, in Sydney, on Wednesday December 19. I'm up first, at 7pm, where I'll be given 8 minutes to show how Cab Savvy I am in front of judges including David Campbell and bookers from Australia's major cabaret festivals. Eek! Tickets are $25 from Moshtix.

Wish me luck!

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