Everyone has a story. Sounds obvious and maybe even a little cliche, but it’s rare to see someone really tap into their story when singing, selecting material, or even putting a show together. I often ask people that I am working with, either in a class or on a show, why they chose a particular song. Nine times out of ten, the answer is “Because I like it”. Well I would hope so! Who wants to see a show called “Sixteen Songs I Hate, and I Hope you Do Too!!”.
Make a list of songs that you sing and look at the commonality. What story is being told for you in each song? Is it an obvious story, or do you need to dig deeper? What is the innermost layer of the song? Could a traditional love song really be about your relationship with a family member? When I sang “Something Wonderful” from The King and I, it was about my father. I did that in a show over a decade ago, but people still come up to me and tell me they remember that interpretation.
When we sing we want to make a lasting impact, we don’t want to just fade into the background. A great voice would be amazing to have, but that gets old quick. What really moves people is the singer’s connection to the song, and their story that is being told through that song. Don’t just settle for your first choice. Dig a little and find the right song for you, then allow it to tell your story. Walt Whitman said “I celebrate myself, and I sing myself”. When it gets down to it, that’s all you can do as a singer. Know who you are, celebrate it, and sing it!