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Monday, February 24, 2014

Listen to your Mother

Hi there,
At what point do you get so good at doing something, there is very little room left for improvement? Or, when exactly is a dog too old to learn new tricks? 

The poster from my first ever cover band.
One of the comments, supposed compliments I hated getting in the early part of my singing career was: 'you've got so much potential'. I just wanted to be there, not always feel like I was just 'on the way'. But then, over the years and after hundreds of gigs, I could feel myself improving and I saw it all more like a steep hill you had to climb in order to get to that pesky 'potential', where you could surely afford to take a breather. 

But then my mum came to see me sing the other day and when I sat down with her in the break, she looked at me (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say 'looked right into me' like only a mother can) and said: 'you sing differently now'. I held my breath, steeling myself for criticism. She continued: ''I like it much better. You sing higher notes I didn't know you could and the notes move around more. You're a better singer,". I didn't like what I was hearing, because if I really had improved, there must have been something lacking before - and I thought I'd already climbed that hill! 

On reflection (OK and prodding from my husband) I realised what she said was great news - not only because being a better singer can only be a good thing but also, if I'm still learning then I mustn't yet be an old dog!!

See you next time,

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

So You Wanna Ditch the Day Job?

Hi there,

In the dim dark past I had a very well paid, secure full-time job with one of the biggest companies in the world. I was on a very clear upward path promising even greater riches and corporate-type rewards, so I should have been happy and grateful right?

Well, no. I had this niggling sensation that I was in the wrong place. I yearned for a badly paid job where I'd have to struggle for every dollar. A job with no sick or holiday pay, where you're constantly being judged. Where hours of preparation and work are in no way guaranteed to reap any kind of financial reward. So I jumped ship and became a full time singer.

I've been thinking back to those days because in the last week, two different people - one I know well and one I've never met - have decided they want to dump their corporate jobs to do music, and asked me about my experience.

One of the hardest things for me was telling my parents. They only wanted the best for me and had worked hard to send me to an expensive private school and put me through university. They were proud of my corporate career and regarded any music I did as nothing more than 'a nice hobby'. 

Julie Anthony & the St George Dragon
When I worked up the courage to tell them (just after I had told my employers, so there was no turning back) my mother cried for a week and my father told me it was the most stupid thing I had ever done. I still remember his comment: 'Why would you think you could do this? Do you really think you're as good as Julie Anthony?' I really only knew this singer from seeing her sing with a dragon on telly but I knew where he was coming from. Other people told me I was 'brave' which in many ways was a nice way to say 'dumb'. 

Anyway, it's not as if I became a millionaire pop princess that can now say to all the naysayers: 'See! I did the right thing! Look at me now!' But I have a job/life (singing is so much more than just a career) that I adore. I make a living doing what I love, so: 
'See! I did the right thing! Look at me now!'