Ask Lis - Good Songs, Good Voice – Now What?
Thanks for coming to my show the other night. I think I sang well and I really got into the songs. But I don’t think the audience really got it. How do I get them involved?
You obviously feel strongly about your songs which shows when you sing. In my mind the job of an artist (in any medium) is first to have something that they are driven to express and second to communicate it. I think you've got the first part nailed – your songs are full of feeling and great story-telling. You've also got a tremendous start on the second - communication. But the piece that's missing is where the audience member feels what you feel. They should know just what you mean as if you’re talking about their lives too. When I watch your show I can see that you mean it, but I'm not sure how it relates to me.
I don’t think you are trying to reach out to the audience - you are trying to connect to yourself. You want us to understand but you aren't looking out at us and seeing if we do. You don't know how we feel. I don't mean as individuals but as a group. There is a feedback loop that happens when the audience connects to you. It feeds you and makes you go further. It's more like a conversation than a monologue. If they didn't understand you, you would change your approach, you would emphasize different things in order to try to connect to them.
The first step to this is opening your eyes. Imagine what it's like listening to someone who is trying to explain something to you with their eyes closed. It would feel as if it doesn't matter if you're in the room or not. The other person is only interested in expressing himself not in getting you to understand him. Conversation needs to be two way.
Having said this, it's not that you are going to be an 'entertainer' or that you want the audience to like you. But there should be a dialogue rather than a monologue. Otherwise the listener doesn't believe they are part of the performance and they should be; each audience makes each show different. Imagine you're on the stage at a big amphitheater. You can only see the first ten rows. But you want to take the whole room with you and engage every person in your songs. That means spreading yourself out to every corner, up to the balcony and all the way left and right. Illuminate the place with your being. Open outward. That's the next step for you.
Lis Lewis is a vocal coach in Los Angeles. Her website, www.TheSingersWorkshop.com, has all the information a pop singer needs to further their career. Her clients include Rihanna, the Pussycat Dolls, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Demi Lovato, Jimmy Eat World, and the All-American Rejects.