In the powerful Netflix documentary ‘Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)’, I was struck by this statement that was made approximately 50 years ago by the First Lady of Soul Nina Simone, she said “an artist duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”.
She saw being a musician as a civic duty. To get her ideas out to the people and share from her heart, how she saw what was happening in her world. A woman who created music in spite of the storms brewing in her inside and outside world.
Nina Simone’s statement was powerful because artists are people who create through their personalities and life experiences. Being honest with yourself and keeping your heart open will produce something that is authentically you. If you want your music to touch your audience, it has to touch you first.
Are you releasing this song you are singing passionately and not allowing any doubt to obstruct the flow of the message you are releasing through your voice, body, and facial expressions. Are you singing the song because you really believe it, or are you going through the motions? Are you only acting, or have you absorbed and digested the song and made it your own so that when you sing it your audience believes you?
Conformity kills creativity, so please let everything you create flow from a place of honesty. You are the instrument and it is through who you are that the audience will hear, see and feel your message. Keep working on that technique, infuse playfulness in your regular practice time, keep experimenting and never stop learning. But most of all, stay as relaxed as you can and trust yourself.
If you agree with Nina Simone and feel that you as a musician want to ‘reflect the times’ from your point of view, then meditate on the words of Carlos Santana who said, “the most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”
Take care and keep on singing,
The Confidence Booster