Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dear Listener: A Disclaimer

I don't know why particularly I was struck this morning by a feeling of severe anxiety and insecurity over this, but I was.  I even feel embarrassed.  Maybe it's just a doppelgänger of post-partum blues.  Whatever it is, I feel like I can't get over it until I say something:

I know I'm not an amazing performer.

There I said it.

Somewhere along the way I picked up the notion that a good performer never makes excuses for themselves.  If you hit a sour note, forget your lyrics, or squeak on your high notes, you don't say a word about it, you just move on and pretend it didn't happen.  But what if you're not a great performer?  What if it's painfully obvious that you're not?  I am so afraid that ignoring my obvious failings will be perceived as blind conceit, that it will appear as though I think I'm all that when it's clear I'm not.

Now, the only reason I find myself in this awkward situation is due in large part to the fact that I'm married to someone who is without question firmly planted in the category of "amazing performer."  Those of you who know him, or have heard and seen him know what I'm talking about.  His voice is out of this world.  He's dashing, tall, handsome, poised, regal, with an endearing dash of little boy in him--just enough to keep us all from feeling entirely inferior.  He has performed in the best-known musicals of our day, in some of the best-known roles, and wowed the socks off audiences across the country.  Of all the women out there who swoon at his melt-your-heart voice, I am the lucky girl he calls "sweetheart."

I have also somehow managed to elbow my way into his limelight.  I've had the opportunity to share the stage with him and some of his amazingly talented friends.  It has been a real treat for me in many ways.  I do love to sing, and I love to talk about the things I hold dear to my heart.  I love to try and uplift people through music and speaking, sharing some of the life lessons my husband and I have learned through our unique experiences.  It is delightful to have those opportunities.

However, there has also been this growing fear that I don't quite belong here.  To my dear, lovely friends who have invested time and money, blood sweat and tears into becoming the talented incredible performers that you are and then patiently shared the stage with me, the amateur, I thank you so much for your graciousness, your love, and your generosity.  It's you I have felt most embarrassed to impose upon, and I especially want you to know, I know I am not your equal.  It was my deepest honor to stand with you.  It was absolutely more privilege than I deserved.  To those who were in the audience, whether at concerts or listening to recordings or broadcasts, thank you also for your patience.  My greatest fear has always been that I would disappoint people with my singing, after hearing how wonderful my husband's is.  So many times after a concert we shared, people would line up to meet him, and I totally understood.  He was amazing.  And since I was standing right there next to him, there was the occasional obligatory, "You were good, too."  I just wanted to disappear.  I didn't want anyone to feel like they had to think of something nice to say about me, like I would feel left out if they didn't.  Really, I didn't care.  I didn't need validation.  I was just happy to hear them gushing on about my husband.  And furthermore, don't anyone dare post anything to try and validate me now, because I will delete it.  That's not what I'm asking for.  I simply want the world to know I do NOT consider myself on par with my husband or his professional caliber friends and associates.  I know I am severely lacking.  Whatever I have tried to contribute came not out of vast training or experience, but a great desire to inspire people the same way they do.  I hope that desire makes up in part for my flat notes or failing breath support.  I will never be my husband's artistic equal.  There's just no way I can invest in the kind of training he has had, let alone conjure up the same pure, natural talent he was blessed with.  But there is one thing he has taught me that I hope I can apply in a way that people can recognize.  When it comes to performing, giving the gift is paramount.  The gift I give may not be as pretty, but I can give it with just as much love, and hopefully that is enough.

But if you want REAL talent, go to people like this: