WHY SING? The answer to this question is meant often to be comprehensive guidance for our unique artistry, and is many times centered on one’s own self and personal experiences. I believe, however, that there is a more important question that we need to be considering in order to be truly successful performing artists: why listen?
We might be inclined to answer that our audiences need our music - that the emotion, the tradition, the beauty of the human voice is what will draw in our listeners. But the human voice has the power to do more than simply create beautiful sounds; it is our most intimate tool of expression and communication. What exactly will our audience walk away from our performance with that will have a unique and tangible impact? I believe it is our responsibility to take a more thoughtful look at what audiences truly need in light of our deeply complex present world, and create musical experiences which are intentionally relevant, radical, and connective.
Music comes with a complex and difficult history. Yet it is a living entity; we, the humans reading the music off the page into reality, are active members of our current society and culture. This shapes our interpretations and understandings, and we in turn create a shared experience with the audience which reflects the world as we perceive it. In the way that a historical painting, novel, or sculpture cannot, music allows us as performers to be part of the process of creation rather than simply historical consumption and reproduction. The narrative is in our hands, and it is our obligation to create in a way reflects the complexities of history, realities of our present world, and our own personal ethos.
With this in mind, my passion and vocation as a creative performing artist is to expand empathy through the music I share. True interpersonal vulnerability is the root of human connection, and as vocal artists we have an unparalleled medium through which we can embrace total vulnerability. Our voice is the most intimate tool with which we can communicate our emotions, our perspectives, and our humanity. The unique platform which we have been given as vocal artists can create new empathy in both our audiences and ourselves.
For me, this leads to a deep passion for sharing new and underrepresented voices in music. Our society is growing into a new understanding of the value of diversity and the need to confront historical injustice - something which is reflected and amplified in the music of many contemporary composers. I want to utilize these beautifully crafted windows into others’ experiences, in combination with the intimate connection created through our vulnerability, to foster empathy in audiences with those stories that might be most unfamiliar to them. This is one of our strongest forms of allyship as artists - to use our privilege and platform to stand in solidarity and create empathy with those who are marginalized, especially those historically rejected or misrepresented within our own musical community.
I am committed to using my own artistry, both now and moving forward, to interact with the past, present, and future in ways which reflect what I value and bring about the world I want to see. In ways which connect with vulnerability, and which create a musical society that reflects what we value in society at large.
When we have something to say which creates this radical, powerful connection, there will always be reason to listen.