Updated: Aug 7, 2019
I recently performed my first solo set at The Old Line on Demonbreun as part of a series called “Nashville on the Rise” hosted by Innovo management (who I will be working with in the future.) It was actually the first performance of the series, and it was the first time they were doing this series at all. I was honored to be selected and of course a bit nervous too.
Something random but cool about this performance is that it was an all female show “Hear it for the Ladies” which as some know, can be rare especially in country music.
Another random cool fact about that night was that a girl I had previously communicated with (I got connected with her by someone I met at a leadership conference in Nebraska) was also playing there. We’d spoken on Instagram but hadn’t met in person until then. It truly is a very small world.
I raced home from work (I work in Hendersonville till 5 pm and it takes about an hour back in traffic) to make it to sound check. Everything was good to go so I went back to Perry’s place (she's a fellow writer, my guitar player for the night, and friend) which was closer to the venue than my place to beautify myself (I don’t put too much into my appearance at work because I’d rather sleep in the morning) and then we headed back for the show.
Backtracking a bit, I had started using this food prepping company Clean Eatz and it totally saved me on this hectic day. Essentially they cook portion and pack healthy meals. I don’t have time to cook, so it’s perfect, I just throw it in the microwave. This was the first week I’d used it and I was able to eat my dinner at work so I wasn’t starving before the show, and since it was healthy food, it kept my energy up.
Although I did do a shot of whiskey before we headed back… it was for good luck and calming some nerves.
I definitely was a little nervous because the place was pretty much empty until around 10 minutes before my performance. I am thankful for any opportunity to perform, but of course, I’d choose a packed house over an empty one. I wanted to share my songs with as many people as I could. Thankfully, after some patience, we got enough people in the door.
Maybe it was the whiskey, or maybe I was just more confident because it wasn’t my first time. Either way, I remember feeling way more at ease than I was the last time I performed live, which was great. It’s hard to sing when you feel like your heart is pounding out of your chest. That didn’t happen this time around like it did when I played before.
Overall, I felt pretty good about the show when it was done. I was able to record the performance, which is good not only for social media content but for tracking my progress and setting new performance goals.
One goal I had previously set for myself was to not say “you know” after every sentence as I did in my first round. That was a goal I was able to accomplish, and I was proud of that.
One thing I did do this time however, excessively touched my hair. Seriously, like every five seconds. I grew up doing musical theatre, cheerleading, and dance, I should know better than to do this, and truly at the moment I didn’t realize it was happening, but that is definitely something to work on for next time, along with not saying "um."
I also noticed that I need to have more stage presence when I’m not singing, at the start of a song or a musical break, I would look back at Perry or look down.
The truth is, I feel way more comfortable in front of a giant crowd than on a small stage. I’d rather play to a stadium than a bar, and ideally, I’d have backup dancers and fireworks behind me. Maybe it’s because I’m used to being in musical theatre numbers, but I’m definitely way more comfortable with a big spectacle. These smaller more intimate settings are something different and for me something harder.
This performance was the most I’ve ever played of my own music. The feeling is still new, and I have to find more ways to actively engage my audience beyond eye contact and hand movements. I think I’m good with my facial expression, and looking all around the room (perhaps something I learned from studying Shakespeare at the Globe in London.) I also need to not be afraid to move my feet. I think I’m a bit afraid of doing something awkward, but I realize the most awkward thing to do is not moving ENOUGH.
As far as my singing, I definitely felt more confident but am still working on correcting my pitch in some areas. I hear it while it’s happening and I hear it in the videos, and it’s frustrating because I know what it’s supposed to sound like. Luckily I have a great voice teacher and my next post will get into some of the solutions I’ve already learned to combat these errors.
I’d say the high point of my performance was playing my song “I Met a Guy” which is funny because I didn’t think much of this song when I wrote it. I’ve been working on projecting and runs in voice and the improvements I’ve made definitely showed here. The notes are also right in my range, and since I’d been working on pulling out more emotion in my singing, I believe I was able to get that across as well.
After my performance, which was the first of the night, I stayed to watch everyone else play. It’s important as an artist to observe how other people work the stage, from cracking jokes, to downplaying their own skills to not saying much at all and letting the music do the talking. The different approaches were super interesting and it definitely gave me some ideas about how I can bring my authentic self into this setting and keep people engaged next time around.
Beyond this, if I’m playing in a show, I want to be there the entirety of the show to also just support the other artists. I enjoy learning from them, but I do truly want to be there as a friend and a fan. You never know how big or small a crowd will be, or what may have been going on that day (for example one performer’s guitar player bailed last minute) and I know from my own experience that having even one super supportive person in a crowd can make or break a show, so I always do my best to be that person for someone else when I can.
I’ve been in singing competitions before, and I really don’t care for them at all. Art is not a sport. We don’t need to be competing against each other, because there is room for all of us. I truly believe that. This is a mindset I hope to carry with me even as I accomplish more and move higher up in the ranks in the eyes of the business side of it. But seriously, just because I love the new Kacey Musgraves Album, doesn’t mean I will love the Maren Morris one any less. There is a constant demand for new music, so there is always room for more. I truly believe that someone else being successful doesn’t take away from my success and vise-versa. We should all be supporting each other and working together Many of the best songs often come from collaboration anyway. The music business has been described as cutthroat, and it might just be because I’m new, but I haven’t seen that yet. Most of the people I’ve met have been nothing but constructive, helpful and kind. I want to form real friendships with other artists, not just use people to get ahead, and I feel like most of us in Nashville feel the same.