By Brandon Brophy
In the light of President Obama’s historic election win, we can find a vital tale that ought to be sewn into the hem of every singer’s story – the archetypal tale of the hero.
For John McCain, Obama’s opponent, had everything that should have easily made him a president.
He was a decorated war veteran with many years of political experience, significant strong political allies, and the first vice presidential female candidate, among many other things.
By all accounts, he was in a political stronghold that should have overpowered his opponent – the comparatively young and inexperienced (and first Black candidate) Barack Obama.
But Obama had a vital skill that crushed his opponent at every turn – the power of passionate, yet authentic and humble speech.
He knew viscerally how to communicate directly to the hearts of the people, and draw allegiances – both financial and otherwise – just from the integrity and emotional exuberance of his words.
In the world of singing, the vocalist lives in a similar world where they must make the same allegiance with their audience – every night.
You can have many credits to your name – who you have played with, a tremendous range, a powerful facility, great licks, insightful lyrics… Just like John McCain, you can have it all – but it certainly will not guarantee your success against the endless competition of singers who are yearning for the spotlight too.
Yet, even more so today than any other period in history, the concert has come to quietly replace the once powerful church, especially for the younger audiences buying the concert tickets.
As a society, we may no longer look to the archetypal religious hermit to relieve our aching souls. Increasingly, we look to the singer onstage, seemingly tapping into a higher consciousness and magnifying our struggles and dreams, to see in ourselves a sense of hope and a sense of direction… For the singer, that is a very daunting responsibility, but one that nevertheless must be realized.
The singer MUST make a fundamental connection to his/her audience, but before they can do this, they must form a connection to their own inherent humanity, meaning and values.
Further, the singer must do so every time he/her opens his mouth, and never allow themselves to slip.
This channel must be nurtured and maintained. This is not easy to do – but it’s what the very act of singing was always meant to be.
To succeed in the complex world of singing, to build that crucial bridge from your your heart to your audience, one should study the tactics of the unlikely hero Obama… All it takes – and really the only thing you need to stay focused upon – is opening up to your own sense of empathy, vulnerability and personal integrity.
A commitment to this end creates a guidance system that trumps all others. Obama survived not through inciting pre-fabricated political fantasy stories, but on being honest, frank, firmly centered, and by listening with deep integrity to what was happening before his eyes and in the country around him.
This selflessness, my friends, is what vocal technique was meant to enhance.
Firmly ingrained in rightful purpose, the singer’s instrument becomes imbued with an intensity and profound expression that mesmerizes an audience.
And as his ability to access more range increases and strengthens, along with his confidence to master that range, his ability to dramatically intensify his sound and his message increase in equal proportion.
This is the is the archetypal path of the singer.
Like Obama has become a man of the people, the singer must become the voice of his/her audience.
Author: Brandon Brophy, Certified Instructor Speech Level Singing
Mobile: 416-871-9261 Office: 647-340-9261, or 1-877-3RD-VOICE Email: [email protected]
Also see article: Dealing With Stage Fright and Public Speaking Fear with multiple quotes and videos by psychologists, artists and voice coach Roger Love.