My Mad March

March 2016 was particularly crazy, I had a Mothers Day Cabaret, R&D for a play (research and development) and the Noel and Cole show at The Landor Theatre in Clapham. This was all going on while I was doing my normal teaching schedule. And while, three performance gigs may not sound a lot (and to lots of musicians, it won’t be), it did mean that I had to learn three different programmes culminating in about two hours worth of music. And then when the music is learnt and the performance is done, because of the way I am currently working, that music isn’t heard again (as sung by me) for months, or years! So you just sort of hope that it stays in your brain until it is needed again. The sheer volume of music that I have had to learn and then leave like this over the years is enormous. I am sure that in my twilight years it will cause me to go insane.

The Mother’s Day Cabaret was a lovely event, full of local people, people who when I perform in front of are so supportive and emphatic in their enjoyment, that I truly enjoy the experience. And I always hope that they go off and tell new people about me! It was probably best then that when the electric piano broke 20 minutes before the concert was due to start, we were able to ask some strong and burly men to help us bring up another one from the cellar of the church next door. I also managed to stay remarkably calm while this was going on, so calm that I even surprised myself. I just figured that if we couldn’t get another piano I could do it all accompanied by spoons (as there were many of them at the venue).

The R&D was a wonderful couple of days spent in The Pleasance Theatre with the company Opera on the Run. They are writing a new show and with it being in the developmental stages, they invite actors and singers to read the script to bring it to life and see where it is going dramatically. I love this side of my job. Sitting in a room with talented people reading an entertaining script is such a satisfying way to spend two days. It reminds me what it is to be a performer and why I decided it would be a good idea to pursue this line of work. You meet people you can network with and exchange ideas, which happened to me and now I am trying to put together a show with a producer. I will keep you updated! Hopefully it’ll go well!

The show in Clapham was also a very enjoyable experience and again reminded me of why I enjoy doing this job. Meeting interesting people and singing wonderful music is why I sing. There is very little glamour and romance to being in shows. It is always a sweaty, nervous experience backstage and Noel and Cole in Clapham was no different. There was a slight mishap with one of my dresses (it didn’t fit! And it did fit last November. Those Christmas pounds! I think I have to accept that I am in an industry where my size does matter and I can’t gain a few pounds for the sole reason that I won’t fit costumes!) The show will be on again in July and I am definitely looking forward to singing some Coward again.

And also in March I got to spend a day wearing gorgeous clothes, having my hair and make up done and my pictures being taken. The result of which are some of the images on my website. Please note-I do not always look like this! I only look nice in these photos because Melanie Gutteridge was in charge of my hair and make up and Andrew Tottenham was the man behind the camera. It is AMAZING what good lighting and lipstick can do to your face. Trust me. No looks that ‘finished’ all the time.

Although March was VERY busy. I love it. To be busy is to be happy, particularly when you’re self employed!

My website

I have had a massive website overhaul, because of a slight change in career direction. I mentioned something to this effect in my previous blog post. I am still singing, but I am putting together more of my own work in what can loosely be called ‘cabaret.’ I am creating shows about subjects that I want to sing about, working with people that I want to work with and singing in venues that are interesting or quirky.

To make this small career change more feasible on the web, I have had Rosemary Galton of Rosiest Design rejig the website and I am really pleased with it now. I wanted something that shows what I do and what I am capable of, but also be a little bit personal. And I hope that the website fulfils this. My shows are also filled with my personality, I hope that by the end of watching one of my shows you either know something about me, or you feel that you can approach me and ask me questions about work, or the music I have been singing.

It is an odd thing, putting yourself out there for people to look at in a way that they can be critical and judgmental without hurting you. They can pour over every word you write, breath you take in a song and picture you put online and the things you say online last forever. Which is why you have to post honestly and with 100% of you in every online decision. I honestly hope that my website is the best side of me on the web!

My Aims

Today Facebook, in its “on this day” app, reminded me of a very drunk speech I made at my University Music Society Dinner seven years ago. In the picture of me mid-speech I am 21 years old, wearing a bow tie around my neck (stolen from a cute guy) and dressed in a rather fabulous cocktail dress. (The bow tie was lost that night. The cute boy (now a man) and I ran into each other seven years later and he reminded me that I lost his bow tie and I still owe him another one). The speech was made on the spur of the moment at the table that I shared with all of my friends. It was about how we all only live once, that life isn’t a rehearsal and we should all go out and live our lives as full as we can, and at that moment in time, that moment there during my very drunk speech to my friends, we had the power to change the world. When this popped up on my Facebook app I smiled with the sort of nostalgic haze that is usually left for those who are classified as “old” or by someone who has “lived”. I suppose it is never too early to look back on the past. And never too late to take stock and ask yourself the question, am I doing all of those things that my 21 year old self wanted me to do?

 

Although the speech was made in a drunken fervour, the message still stands. We are all, regardless of our age here on this earth, meant to live life to the fullest and happiest. Something that I had not been doing for a while. On my last birthday, 20th May 2015, I woke up and went to a job I hated. I cried all the way to work. I was so upset and frustrated with my life that waking up and going to a job I hated on my birthday was the last straw. Turning 28 and being that unhappy with life was not natural, good or right. I knew then that I couldn’t carry on as I have been and I wanted to make a substantial change.

 

Changes before that had slowly started to happen. I am still yet to believe that if you put something out into the universe, the universe answers you. I think it is more about you changing your own thinking. However, more and more interesting people over the last two years have entered my life. I met a fabulous yoga teacher who lives completely off the grid (including growing her own food and raising her own animals to eat), an extremely talented pianist who is so laid back she is basically horizontal and an embodiment coach who has challenged my way of understanding the body and most importantly my notion of effective therapy. Although this is just a fraction of the happy people who have come into my lives, they all have something in common, they live their lives with one aim. To. Be. Happy. That kind of rebellion against complacency can rub off on a gal and I too have made a decision to be as happy as possible. It is not an easy decision. It means big changes in my life, one of which has something to do with my career, (I have decided to take my career slightly off the “conventional” route for a classically trained singer). I have changed my diet and I exercise with more appreciation of what my body is capable of than rather than what it could look like. 

 

The month of January has offered some reminders to millions of us about living our lives in a way that makes us happy. The deaths of Bowie, Rickman and Wogan have reminded us that to live a happy life (as we believe those gentlemen were) is to live a life honest to ourselves. I have also had a personal reminder in the death of my darling Grandmother, a singer herself, who was glamorous and always perfectly turned out. As a family coping with her death, we have not spoken about the things she has left behind, the jewellery and furniture she couldn’t take with her, but the memories. She was a vivacious woman who looked at everyday as an opportunity for something to be done, something to be achieved in that day. This attitude to life made her happy and it is this that gives us the memories. Granny knew that life wasn’t a rehearsal, it was to be embraced with both hands and enriched in whatever way you could make it better. The death of my Grandmother is a reminder to me, as I’m sure the death of Bowie, Rickman and Wogan is to millions of others, that we all have the power to be our own happiness, we have the power to change the world and that we should live our lives the best way we can. And with that attitude you can change, maybe not the world, but certainly your own wellbeing.