YOU GOTTA BE YOU!
That was the lesson from my previous post. If you’re a musical entertainer and you want to distinguish yourself from all the other musical entertainers out there, you won’t do it by singing the same number one hit songs on Top 40 radio that everyone else is singing or the same tunes that everyone has downloaded to their iPod. If you waddle like a goose, honk like a goose, and poop like a goose, then rest assured that no one will ever mistake you for an eagle.
You become an eagle when you soar above the crowd, do your own thing, and sing your own songs. No, you don’t have to write your own material, although that’s certainly one way to distinguish yourself. But how about singing some songs that haven’t been done to death?
“Okay,” you say, “I see your point, and I’m willing to sing some out of the ordinary tunes. But how do I start collecting this material?
Lesson number two – LISTEN, REMEMBER, DIG!
Listen — your two ears are an excellent collection tool for good music. Perhaps you hear a band play a song that makes you feel good. Maybe you’re flipping through TV channels or radio stations and you hear something that brings back a childhood memory. If you like them, why not learn them and sing them yourself? Someone else might like them too, and you might even gain a fan.
Remember — your brain is your personal library for storing all these songs that your ears collect, and it’s been around longer than YouTube or iTunes. In fact, I’ll bet you have lots of songs stored in there already. Did your mother and father sing, play records, or play the radio when you were growing up? I’ll bet you remember some of those songs. I’ll wager that a few of them bring a smile to your face because they bring back fond childhood memories. What about your grandparents, aunts, and uncles? Did they ever sing when they were around you? Do you remember any of their songs? Why not add one of these to your repertoire? To this day, I still remember some of the songs my parents used to sing, and I’ve incorporated some of these into my act.
Dig — good old fashioned legwork. Good music is like gold or precious stones. It’s rarely found at the surface. You have to dig for it. So visit your local library. Search for songs on the internet. You’ll be amazed at all of the wonderful songs that are out there. Have a favorite singer or musician? I’ll bet that individual was influenced by someone else. Why not try listening to some of your favorite’s favorites? If someone you admire likes someone else’s music, you may very well like it too.
Once you build your storehouse of songs, after a while, you’ll find that you won’t have to work so hard to find them. They’ll start coming to you. You’ll find them in all sorts of places, even when you’re not looking for them. And you don’t have to confine yourself to one particular genre. I, myself, enjoy a wide variety of musical styles. When I perform, I may start out with a 70’s country-western tune, follow it up with a 60’s bubblegum rock tune, and then throw in something from a Warner Brothers cartoon for good measure.
Now that you’ve found them, practice them. Sing them every chance you get – in the shower, in the car, at work (okay, maybe not at work.) Find the chords or figure them out on your own, and start playing them. Make them your own. Then start performing them.
As an added bonus, why not find unique ways to combine them? I once did a two-song set that I called “Sap and Corn.” For the “sap” portion, I played “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro. You can’t get more sappy than that! Then for the “corn” portion, I sang “I Lobster and Never Flounder” by Pinkard and Bowden. Listen to the song yourself and you’ll see what I mean about corn.
I can’t promise that Listen-Remember-Dig will make you a rich and famous singing superstar. But honing your own unique style may just bring you a following. At the very least, you’ll be remembered. You’ll also have a whole lot more fun than you will being lost out in a whole crowd of Meghan Trainor clones.