Monday, September 12, 2016

For the teenage boy with the beautiful voice...

We talked at length the other day, and I heard you loudly and clearly when you said: "being a boy in the choir can get 'weird' when you're in high school."  Not only is your voice changing and doing what it wants when it wants, but the message from the crowd toward artists (especially male artists) is as unkind now as it ever has been:
  • anything artistic is a waste of time... (unless you get rich quickly, then it's lauded)
  • you need to prepare to get a "real" job in the "real" world 
  • it's cute for little kids to be in a choir, but once you get older you "look like a pansy" (or worse)
As an artist, I have had the first two sentiments directed toward me on numerous occasions.  Less so lately, since I have been proving the naysayers wrong for the last decade.*  Being a woman has given me somewhat of a pass, since women don't generally face the same societal pressures as men to be "breadwinners" or even gainfully employed.  The latter sentiment?  I have never had my gender identity nor sexual preference questioned for being an artist.  On the contrary, women (being the 'weaker sex' and all), are EXPECTED to flit from project to project, make things that aren't considered to be "useful" in an objective way, and readily display our emotions.  While I don't think this blanket statement should be thrown over all women, this happens to fit me, all. day. long.

MEN, however, are supposed to be either stoic and stolid or aggressive and unpredictable.  Sensitive and emotional?  Nah, son.  Talented with a beautiful voice?  Acceptable only if you're trying to sing the panties off of some woman.  Other than that?  Nope.

Listen up, because I'm gonna tell you a truth right now, just I always have and always will:

Making a living as an artist is one of the toughest professions that has ever existed.  You go into your heart- into your guts, see what's there, and create something from what you find.  You have to coax out the fearful creatures who are afraid of the light, ask the arrogant voices what's under the bluster, put skin on everything that you find, and infuse it with your blood to give it life.  

The very act of creation, much like childbirth, can leave you feeling anemic and in need of rest - but you do it anyway, because that's what artists do. Then, breathless and hopeful, you hand that creation over to people whom you hope will appreciate what you have to give.  They usually don't.  So you rest (and/or cry) until you regain your strength... and you create again. And again.  Forever and ever, Amen.

Auditioning is like that.  Singing for an audience is like that.  Creating anything that you care about is like that.

Weak people can't do what we do.  They can only comment on what we do.

Here's another truth:  If people with money and/or connections think that your creations are 'marketable' (i.e. - THEY can make money from your efforts), you get paid and you get to continue living indoors and eating groceries that you yourself select from an actual store, as opposed to half-eaten burgers handed to you by passersby on a busy sidewalk.  This can easily turn you into a dancing bear - performing for peanuts (or whatever the hell bears eat, which is not really the point here) just to keep from eating second-hand street meat.  Many artists - including myself- have stumbled at this juncture, opting to dance here and there in order to keep the lights on.

But being an artist, the voices will always let you know when you have become a circus act, and if you listen to the voices (mental illness aside), instead of drowning them out with (de)vices, you will find your way back to your center.  

If I haven't scared you off yet, it's a sure sign that the the bug has already bitten you, so WELCOME TO THE RIDE, Kiddo! 

My advice to you is this:
  • Give haters no airtime.  Zero.  In fact - this is all that I'm going to say about those assholes.  I'd use harsher language, but you're still a young'un, plus my mother reads my blog.
  • Whether you continue to use your (beautiful) voice publicly or not is a choice for you alone to make.  Gather perspectives from people whom you respect, but to put that choice into the hands of other people (even well-meaning people) is to disrespect yourself and your intrinsic value.
  • If one day you find that you have become a dancing bear, performing for... whatever they eat (seriously - I need to google and find out - honey, maybe??) sit still, get quiet, and the voices will lead you home.** 
  • Find your tribe.  No matter what you face in life, you are not the only one going through whatever you're going through.***
Though I would LURVE 😍  for you to keep singing (because YOU love it and I love hearing you), know that whatever you decide to do, whomever you decide to be, and wherever you follow your heart I will support you in truth.  Always.


--Nicole


*Check my credentials, Boo: Nicole J. Butler at IMDb

**A lot of people will think this sounds crazy... but my fellow artists know exactly what I mean.

***There are others who understand your journey.  Find them.  Here are a couple of posts that elaborate on this: http://bit.ly/2c4Ikx7 and http://bit.ly/2c4Jb0P

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