Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Look"-ism in the Business

Sunday musings...

Many of you have talked about this - and asked me about it's time to begin to explore it. This could be a multi-entry topic and I am willing to ask some questions so here is the beginning...

Many of you deal with your voice not matching your "look".

First - may I refer you to the Art versus Business blog entry a couple of days ago: Your voice and your "look" may not be matching in the BUSINESS.

If you are an artist, if you are pursuing your craft, if your ultimate goal is to invest in YOUR artistry and see what you can express and what your voice is able and willing to do - the your look DOES match your voice!!! Why? Because it is YOU!!!

I am NOT being Pollyanna. Trust me. My husband and closest friends are laughing while reading this as they know how negative I can get at times!!!

What I am saying is this: EMBRACE ALL OF YOU!!! Sing with YOUR voice (which means finding it and developing it and investing in it!) and sing with YOUR body - no matter how big, how small, how fat, how skinny, how tall, how short!!!

This is the BEGINNING. EMBRACE YOURSELF - ALL of it. Who are you? What can you do? What do you WANT to do? Will you dare yourself to DO it?

The SELF must come first. You must anchor from the SELF. This is the truth of you and if you cannot recognize it and rejoice in it, you will never be able to truly infuse yourself into the business with any clarity. If you don't anchor yourself to yourself, you will allow the business to define you. YOU DEFINE YOURSELF.

Do not apologize for what your voice does and is! Do not apologize for your body/look! BE who you ARE. Develop that. This is the "you" that makes most sense and will constantly morphing and recreating to be a reflection of where you are as an artist and as a human being.

What if the business doesn't recognize it as a match?

Do you have to make a complete makeover physically or vocally?

ABSO-freaking-LUTELY NOT!!

Your voice is your voice. Your body is your body. It is up to you to make BOTH of those facets of you the best you can!

If you want to be in the business and your are an ingenue voice with a voluptuous tall body - then explore WHERE that could be! Dare those hiring to not ignore you!!!! How???? Make sure your voice WORKS BRILLIANTLY!!! Tall and voluptuous can still be dressed, and accessorized to show possibilities to be closer to the vocal possibilities!

What part of the business are you in?? Opera, Oratorio, Music Theatre, Cabaret? What? Start being honest: have you done EVERYTHING to invest in your voice? Are there options you could explore in styles and genres that would give you a stronger foothold in the business? Are you willing to go there?

Know what you cannot change and embrace it. Know what you can DEVELOP and DO IT! Develop your voice, make your body strong and powerful! Know what you want to project, and project that!!! Enhance it with the accessory of style/genre, and visual impact of how you walk into a room - and develop the self-confidence that what you offer and who you are IS ENOUGH.
The business will either make a place for you, or you will make a place for yourself. Being willing to explore BOTH.

Develop and commit to your voice FOR YOU. Lose weight FOR YOU. Get healthy FOR YOU. Gain muscle FOR YOU. Explore your look FOR YOU. It has to begin and end with you.

Accessorize for the business - so they can see your versatility, your pliability and your commitment to yourself. Don't sing for the business! Don't change your body for the business!

The business is fickle. You cannot be. Commit to YOU and creating YOURSELF. Stay anchored, stay focused, and develop a sense of humour!!

If this business is fickle, learn to play the game, and play it within your zone. Know what you will gamble with, how much you are willing to put down, and know if it doesn't pay off, when you walk away!!! Fickleness doesn't deserve you to throw yourself in and lose it all.

Business trends come and go. Trends are accessories. You can change these as necessary! Your "self" is not a trend. Know the difference: embrace and invest in one, and play the other!


  1. This is very helpful, Susan. Young singers hear an awful lot of "They are looking for____". I used to fuss over this myself, being a rather Jolly Green Giant of a tenor. Regardless which way the winds of fashion blow, these kids (and us nonkids!) have to learn to love our whole authentic selves.

  2. Fabulous! Yes, there is way too much bad advice out there. It can't all be true! If it were, each individual would have to change direction every 3 seconds!

    In a singer's audition (I played), one of the judges morphed into a wannabe voice teacher, telling her (not suggesting, but insisting) how to sing high notes. If singers take all this stuff seriously, they're bound to (a) mess up their voices; (b) crack up (laughing would be good, but I'm talking about going nuts); or (c) quit.

    Knowing one's SELF is crucial!

  3. Years ago, when I was trying to set up my household and decide who I was as a homemaker -- what style my furniture would be, what colors would be on my walls, etc.. I found a book called "House as a Mirror of Self." I was looking for some kind of way to dress my house to reflect who I was, but as I read the book, I realized that the cluttered house full of too many books lining the walls and a mishmosh of different things I liked really WAS a mirror of my self. I didn't really like that, to tell you the truth, but it was revealing that my house ALREADY reflected me.

    I may not always be the SELF I am right now. I may change and develop and what I see in that mirror may reflect something very different 5 years from now. But the only REAL thing I have is who I am right now. And that's what I've got to work with.

  4. Recently I was talking with a theater friend about directing and the difficulties of casting. She passed on to me some great advice given her by a directing teacher: "If you can't fix it, FEATURE IT." The example she gave was a show where the best actress for the female romantic lead is much taller than the actor who is best for the male romantic lead. So, she said, don't cast weaker actors--feature it! Have her dip him in the final kiss. Let the audience know you KNOW it's not the picture they might have envisioned reading the play, and maybe you didn't either, but make it the point.

    I think that applies to this as performers, too. If you don't fit in the box of what "the business" says you should be (and really, who does?)...feature it.