Tuesday, February 14, 2017

        This man’s creative genius was a gift to American music. George Gershwin was a musical genius, yet his life was suddenly cut short. What would our world be like had he lived another 50 years? What can this teach us?

     In a very interesting conversation with my dear friend, Susan, yesterday, we considered why we are afraid to share our talent. Why do incredibly talented performers sometimes stop performing? Why are others not sharing their talent? Is it because the stage fright is just too overwhelming? It has been said that public humiliation is one of our biggest fears. To fail, to stumble, or more aptly put, to be human, is too risky for many talented performers. American audiences are quick to judge and slow to forgive. Consider the Mariah Carey, Adele, Janet Jackson Charlie Beljan, (golfer) Barbara Streisand, Donny Osmond brouhahas. In the age of Twitter, entertainers can’t get away with anything, and heaven forbid they say the “wrong thing” after the fact. Their reputations will be scarred.

     If you have ever had to deliver a speech in front of a large audience, play an instrument in front of a group of your peers, kick the deciding field goal or make the deciding basket, you know what it feels like to have performance anxiety. It is human, but our own level of anxiety is a matter of degree. 

      In a related conversation, a friend of mine told me that I should charge for my one-woman show.  She explained that I am not only cheating myself of the monetary reward I have worked so hard to earn, but that I am making it more difficult for other musicians who deserve ample pay for all their years of study and their hours of practice and rehearsing. “I never thought about it from that perspective,” I answered. It is true. If talented performers never hold out for what they deserve, their compensation will never increase, and the respect they should earn will never be realized. 

     So what’s the answer? People need to be more forgiving. They need to walk in the shoes of any performer to understand the risks involved in laying your soul bare to share your talent. As performers, we need to forgive ourselves and not expect perfection. We are most often our very worst critics. 

      I will perform three concerts in April, and I will do my very best to leave Sandy at home and hope that my audience will recognize my talent and applaud not just what I’ve accomplished that day but what I’ve been working for the past 11 months. Stay tuned.