Let’s start with the most obvious question, what is an entertainer?
Entertainer: (noun) a person, such as singer, dancer, or comedian, whose job is to entertain others.
To come to some sort of understanding of what sort of entertainer you want to be, you need to ask yourself a few more questions:
How do you want to be remembered?
How do you want to leave your audiences feeling and thinking?
What is the most important message YOU want to leave with your audience
Is there a difference between an entertainer and a social justice entertainer?
Should you use your voice to promote (your version of) social justice or stick to entertainment?
There are a lot more questions you could ask yourself but these will definitely get you started. We as artists have responsibility to ourselves first, and then the world. If we are not careful we will allow our gift to be tainted by our own fears and or public opinion. We MUST be vigilant in understanding that as artists we cannot just react to what we see, but respond in a way that (in my opinion) brings hope. If the truth is ugly, make sure you suggest some sort of a solution, don’t leave us hanging…
Louis Armstrong knew that when he refused to straighten his hair during a time when most African Americans were doing so, this refusal could cost him, but it did not. He was very successful and focused on his music. He wrote letters of protest to congress and verbalized his disgust with political decisions that were being made about segregation.
He only played in places that he could stay in as during the 50s blacks could not stay in the fancy hotels they performed in. With his music he brought blacks, whites, rich and poor people together and this was his way of doing his part during the civil rights movement. Although he was criticized for not doing enough, Louis Armstrong let his performances, the actual playing and singing of the music, be the barrier breaking tool.
Then you have someone like Eartha Kitt who has an amazing career and then says something about how she does not agree about the Vietnam war at a party and her career tanks for a few years. Then she has a big come back later on in her career and went on to be an iconic figure.
Gordon Lightfoot who writes ‘Black Day in July’ about the 1967 Detroit riots and his song is pulled during the assassination of Martin Luther King jr. from radio stations all across America because it was seen as “fanning the flame” when it was actually written as a cry for racial harmony.
Or the Dixie Chicks expressing themselves about how they felt about a president and their career takes a nose dive. But after 14 years changed their name and release a new album and are doing just fine now!
Then you have Harry Belafonte who is a singer, songwriter, activist, and actor. He was a supporter of the civil rights movement and was very close to Martin Luther King Jr. Was part of the Anti -Apartheid Movement, USA for Africa, has been the ambassador for UNICEF Goodwill and the American Civil Liberties Union for juvenile justice issues. Some entertainers are all about social justice.
As artist are we allowed to use our voice the way we choose to?
Are we able to feel deeply and share how we feel in the lyrics of a song, melody and harmony of the music we prepare and perform? Are we allowed to express ourselves freely knowing that our creativity flows through ALL of our preconceived notions about ourselves and the world? Through all our beliefs and perceptions, and through our points of view and our sense of being. Is it possible as an artist to share your craft without your creativity not being touched by your soul (where the fullness of who you are resides)?
As an artist I must be true to my inner being that governs me to express
myself in only the way that I can. For all of those courageous
artists out there, whatever your thing is, DO IT!
Be the entertainer YOU are.
Keep on singing,
The Confidence Booster