Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall??

Heart pounding with anticipation. You are ready for this, you have put in the work for weeks. You practiced your monologue every day from a half hour to an hour. Vocalized and rehearsed your song for an hour every day. You are wearing your favorite power suit that will signify the character and your hair was cooperative...well, my hair never lets me down, let's be honest. Not too much make-up. Subtle, yet enough so I don't look pale. Focus. Fill out the form...stupid fly, why is there a fly in here and why does it seem to be highly attracted to me? I am not wearing perfume. Must be the hairspray. Form is filled out...where is the conflict sheet? Oh, well. I only have one conflict and I can inform them if I get a call back...WHEN I get a call back. Think positive. Focus. Breathe. I am so ready for this. I was born to play this role. You got this! Heart pumping out of my chest. Breathe. "They are ready for you." Yes! Act casual, not too eager. Confident. It is all about confidence. Breathe. Enter the room, friendly faces greet and make me feel at ease. Accompanist seems capable. Great! See taped "X" on the floor, hit my mark. "Hello, my name is..." There is a huge mirror right behind them. This is a dance studio so that would make sense. Don't panic. But, where am I going to look? "I will be doing..." If I look up at that plant hook reflected in the mirror, maybe... "I will be singing..." My gaze won't be too high. I feel like my chin is up in the air. Why is she playing my song, wait, what? "Oops!...No, I will be doing my monologue first." "Oh, Sorry. I can't hear in this room." Great, the accompanist just said she can't hear me and where should I look? I don't want to look at myself in the mirror, that will be weird. The hook, I will look at the hook. This character is supposed to be regal. If my chin is up a bit, it will add to the character, right? "Ibsen, Ibsen, Ibsen..." Man, this monologue is not quite how I rehearsed it. Get it together, Dunbar! Focus! Be the character, stop are acting. Is that hook white or gray? "Ibsen, Ibsen, Ibsen..." Almost done and I just can't...I need to look at myself, I need to put my chin down, aaaaand there I am. I can't seem to find a focal point besides my own eyes in this mirror. I look lost. What is my last line? Ah, yes..."Ibsen!" Hopefully the song will redeem me. It is the last impression. Here we go. Try to look more to the side of yourself than right at yourself. I feel I am drifting back.... Oh, who cares, just look at yourself. Sing to yourself. That will look normal, right? "Singing sad song, Singing sad song, Singing sad song..." I am having an outer body experience. I feel my spirit leaving my body, I am so...this is so weird! I don't want to look at myself! Whew, it is hot in here. Am I too young for hot flashes? Yes, I am too young. Breathe. "Singing sad song, Singing sad song..." Last note is coming make it great. "Singing. Sad. Song." Not terrible. But, I honestly can't recall. All I know is that there is a mirror right behind the people I am supposed to impress and win over and I don't remember anything except what I look like when I am distractedly performing an Ibsen monologue and singing a very sad song. Smile. Say my thanks, get my music, bump into the fly on the way out. Ugh! Drink some water. Take a deep breath. Walk slowly away in a confused haze.

Stupid mirror.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Songs I Love To Sing: To Make You Feel My Love

To Make You Feel My Love was written by Bob Dylan. I think most of us are more familiar with the covers of this song than the original. Mr. Dylan's voice can be an acquired taste, but there is no doubt of his talent as a songwriter. This song alone has been covered by countless artists. Some of my favorites include Adele, Billy Joel, and Garth Brooks. I decided to do the Adele arrangement. It was intimidating, Adele is an original and it is hard to fill her shoes in any way. But, the key was perfect for me and my intention was not to sing this song like her, but do my own thing. Since my recital had a country/folk theme I gave it a little of those flavors. One thing I love about this song is that is open for interpretation. Sure, it could be about a lover or a new relationship, but it could also be sung to someone we love who is struggling, or in my case, when I sing this song I focus on my oldest son who has Autism. I feel like this fierce mama bear who would do anything to make him feel safe, valued, and loved. Here is my rendition of this song. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Devil Makes Three and Garrison Keillor

Roger and I had the pleasure this past summer to attend a couple concerts at Red Butte Garden Amphitheater. The first was this clever looking bunch, Devil Makes Three. They were tight. When I see bands that are accomplished musicians and great performers it is incredibly inspiring. I want to add the banjo and upright bass to my list of instruments I need to learn now. Or, just stick to that lifelong dream of being in a band with Roger and the kids. I could never bring myself to purchasing a drum set, well with a band like this, who needs drums? Enjoy a song by them below (it starts to really rock out at 1:19)

Then we attended a taping of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. This has been a life long dream for me. I grew up listening to this show on. Garrison is retiring this year so I got there just in the nick of time. He put on a colorful and heartfelt show. He is witty and one of the best story tellers around. He is always joined by talented musicians, and of course, Fred Newman his sound effects man. Here is a fun little gospel ditty. Enjoy! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Songs I Love to Sing: Love Is Like a Butterfly

Dolly Parton. I love her. She is a strong woman that just oozes talent, and sweetness. Growing up I remember listening to that crystal clear voice over and over again. Her songs are personal. She is a master story teller. As I was trying to figure out which songs of hers to do for my concert Roger stayed quiet. I honed in on one of her more upbeat, tongue and cheek songs, and I just wasn't feeling it. Roger finally said, "Why don't you try 'Love Is Like a Butterfly'? I love that song." I tried it out and it fit like a glove. It is simple, poetic and a dream to sing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Songs I Love to Sing: Blue Moon of Kentucky

As most of you know, I love Patsy Cline. I honestly don't know anyone who doesn't love Patsy Cline. She is one of those artists that transcend any genre of music and is adored unconditionally. When I watch footage of her live performances I get the sense that she was an amazing person and I'd like to think we would have been good friends had the opportunity presented itself. I do not have that deep tone quality that she has, but I sing her songs not to sing like her, but to feel the joy that they bring to my soul. I can't help imitating some of her "Patsy-ism". If there is one musical I have my eye on it is "Always Patsy Cline." If I were to do that show I would work to sound more like her, but for this recording I just did my own thing and found happiness while doing it. Patsy lived in a time where songs were written and many artists covered the same songs without a second thought. I know that many of her songs were recorded by other artists before her, but there is just something special about Patsy and her interpretation of a song that makes it special and stand out from the crowd. She was one of the greats, no doubt!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Am One Who Must Give Light

~ "What is to Give Light Must Endure Burning" - Viktor Frankl

I have been pondering this quote in recent weeks. I feel that I am one who must give light. I love doing things for other people. I feel full of peace and goodness when I am serving and finding ways to serve. My favorite way to give light is performing on stage. I believe with all my heart that it is an act of service when one shares their talents. I know it can uplift and transform people when they see a performer and it resonates with them. I know this because I have been in the audience and have had life changing experiences while attending a musical, ballet, play, or concert. I am also deeply moved and inspired when I see a certain work of art or a building that has been achieved by a master architect. I know first hand how art can go about spreading tremendous joy to people. So, when I am given the chance to be the one that could possibly inspire and bring that kind of joy, I put my whole heart into it.

Now if we look at the second part of that phrase, "must endure burning", that's where it starts to get interesting. I find that when I fail at learning a new skill or when I face rejection and don't get cast in something. It can be frustrating. It can hurt. It can be confusing. I have felt all of those emotions and many more as I struggle to navigate the 'behind the scenes' of performing. It takes a tremendous amount of work and tenacity to succeed. I learned early on that I had to practice my skills as much as I was able. But, what motivated me to practice more than anything else was seeing other performers at an audition or on stage giving their light. One can learn much from observing. I got cast in the chorus of my first show at age 10. I wanted so badly to have gotten a speaking role. So, I was determined to observe the ones that got the speaking parts, soak everything in, and apply what I had learned.

If we use those times of disappointments to learn, take stock, practice more steadily, set goals, and push ourselves in the areas where we need improvement, we grow. We become more polished, poised, and confident. We will all go through difficult times. Times of failure. Times of injury. Times of sadness and frustration. ALL of us will. And when we do, we can decide if we are going to pick ourselves up and continue on that same path, choose a different path, or just give up. The choice can be daunting at times, especially when we are knocked down time and time again. For me, I may sit and wallow for a season, but then I get myself right back into the ring and battle for the chance to burn bright. I think just the thought of the opportunity is worth fighting for. And statistically, the more times one tries, there is a greater probability that they will succeed.

I am one who must give light. I will endure the burning to give that light.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Songs I Love to Sing: The Book of Love

When I first heard this song on Peter Gabriel's album, Scratch My Back, I had to put it on repeat and just bask in it for a while. It was fun to learn that his was a cover version (the whole album is a collection of covers) of the song by The Magnetic Fields. I was gearing up to do a country/folk themed concert and felt this song could be given a "country twist". So, I figured it out on the guitar and sent it to my friend Jay Richards who made my track for me. There was a music interlude and we decided the fiddle was the best choice to again give it a more country music feel. I love the end result. Enjoy!