In this series, “Singing on Stage”, I go over 6 invaluable elements to showmanship and how they work to comprise a great show. I’ll also offer tips along with each ~
Singing in Character – Your Persona
How you get to your performance mentally is very different from how you get there physically. With the physical, you can pound the muscle memory into shape with the brute force of a strict rehearsal discipline… mentally, however, you have to be more creative and versatile than that. And every song can vary greatly… I’ll explain.
Whether in theater or a live band situation, you have to “sell” what you are singing. If you don’t, it’s transparent and empty, and nothing is more painful to watch than someone who looks like they are forcing a performance or is uncomfortable with what they are doing. To help you “sell” the performance, here’s a solid method that works for many. Try to adopt a persona that is appropriate for a song. This means your face, your tone and your physical mannerisms must be engaged. When I discuss being an entertainer, I’m talking about this level of performance, where your whole self is involved. To me, you can’t just memorize words and sing them if you wan to be considered an entertainer:)
Here’s how I do it, and your way might benefit from this or you might have a completely unique way of your own! The important thing is that now your mind will be on developing and using a method that will make you a true entertainer! More entertaining and certainly more consistent… and that’s where progress begins!
Warning ~ If you are a purist who insist that “not preparing” is the only way to give a genuine performance, that’s fine too. That’s certainly a less time consuming approach, however, this article probably isn’t for you:)
Singing in Character – I have two layers of persona with each song I sing. The first is my own stage persona, and the second is the persona that is right for the song. So, underneath everything is the performer persona that I have developed. Me. Or what I like to think of as being “me”. Fun, engaging and bursting with joy to be doing what I love, etc. I move, act, talk and sing from this persona all night, every night and with no thought or effort. It’s simply who I’ve become on stage. Then, over that, is the rehearsed persona for a lyric or song. Cover, or original. It doesn’t matter. I become something of what the lyric needs in order to convey the emotion or spirit of the sond. My hands move differently to emphasize the lyric. My eyes might close, my stance and movements change, my energy rise or drop… all depending on the song, the lyric and any preconceived notions a crowd might have about what should be done. I.E., when singing Keith Urban I’ll look and behave a bit differently than when singing Michael Jackson.
What works for you? What is your stage persona? Do you have one? If you don’t think you do, think again. Your persona can be defined in the comments made about you by audience members after the show, or the day after, etc.. it’s what they say about you that reflects what they took away from you. THAT is what your persona did. Not you. Your persona on stage is what gave the audience an impression. Think about that and allow yourself to get creative with what I’m saying. You can be anyone you want to be on stage. Even if that only means a better version of “you”. It’s the closest thing to living two lives we can get. You can be two, three, four or more people! That’s something non-entertainers can’t say. It’s most obvious with actors and actresses… they actually pretend to be entirely other people.
Another thought ~ Do your role models have a stage persona? The way I see it, there’s another Steve Martin, another Jim Carrey another Lady Gaga that hits the stage.
Don’t rob yourself of the opportunity to live vicariously through your entertainer’s persona. Have fun with it and even have an agenda to make people smile or “feel” something. Do things you’d normally fear doing. It might help you deliver your show with more confidence and passion.
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