I have been ranting on Twitter on and off since New Year’s Eve about the fiasco with Mariah Carey’s performance. Not for the same reasons most gossip and so-called news outlets have kept the conversation alive.
I turned off the TV after the Mariah Carey “performance” on January 31, 2016. On some level I did feel bad for the “Pop Diva” for not being able to hear the tracks etc But as the number continued I got angry.
I have been a professional performer for more than 20 years. I have been performing for nearly 40 at some level. At age 5, a piano teacher told me to never stop, no matter what. If you make a mistake, DON’T make a face. And as I tell my students at every class, the only ones that will know you messed up are your teacher and your Mom.
“MOM ALWAYS KNOWS. THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT THAT” I tell me students with a grin.
Mariah Carey broke that basic cardinal rule of live performance. #FAIL
Live performance is always an imperfect beast. And performing live for millions on TV in the freezing cold is always difficult for any serious artist. I played trumpet in a brass choir down at the DC Christmas trees. So cold I was almost in tears, but the crowd loved the carols and we felt justified in our suffering. We were not paid in money, just “feels” as the kids say on Twitter these days (or was that 3 months ago? lol).
If Mariah Carey was a dancer I could understand doing a lip sync. I understand why Britney or Madonna would lip sync because it is almost impossible to do the dances from some of their videos and sing. At least impossible for a pop diva. Any Broadway artist or otherwise TRAINED professional could get through it.
But most pop divas are not truly trained pros. They rely on tracks because they are not true musicians that could follow a band live. They are incapable of responding to live stimuli and recreate what a genius sound producer made them sound like in the studio.
So when all you have to offer are fading looks, a recorded voice you have not had in 10 years, perhaps you are doomed to fail eventually. Too bad it was on one of the biggest live broadcasts of your lifetime – anyone’s lifetime – but that is what happens.
And as I said on Twitter, my goal here is NOT to shame Mariah Carey. My hope is to inspire students of mine to spend one more hour every day working on your craft as an artist.
This debacle does not happen to real artists. Sure we have bad microphones and monitors, but we are professionally trained and experienced to deal with this.
Mariah Carey has been a professional recording “ARTIST” since 1990. This should have been cake. Instead she looked like a fool. Maybe it was the producers’ fault. Perhaps the sound guy played the wrong track. Perhaps it was even sabotage.
A true artist should be able to cope and get through the moment with far more grace. A true artist would never have let the audience know there was a problem.
I think there is also a lesson here to be learned about aging as an artist. Part of the problem is Mariah is still trying to be that 1990s pop diva. You need to reinvent yourself CONSTANTLY.
We all age. We all change as we age. Our voices change, especially when we are making unnatural vocal sounds that strain the vocal chords. The sound great in the studio but the chances of making those sounds live EVERY time are slim to none.
I have teen students that use to be kid students. They are discovering that they need to spend more time writing stand-up comedy material. They need to make better choices in Improv scenes. They can no longer count on being cute because they are 8. They have passed through puberty. Voices changed. Motivations changed.
Some former teen students are now in college. They are no longer under their parents roof.Fear of not being able to pay rent sets in… affording a metro card…
Skip ahead 5-10 years no we are talking marriage, kids, morgage etc etc etc In my 30s my voice and physical body was always ready to rock. All that training and experience from 5-30yo was working for me. I woke up and sang Hi Cs/ I was always warmed-up. I could drive to Ohio and back from a gig (About 18 hours plus 4-5 hours set-up/performance) and jump right back on stage.
Skip ahead to 40. I turned 40 and I went from being in perfect health (seriously despite being overweight all my numbers – sugar, cholesterol, heart rate – went from perfect to crap over night). Losing weight/staying thin becomes harder. I have to warm up like a high school kid that has never sung before. Because it takes 1-2 days to recover now from a road trip, I am not singing/acting/dancing EVERYDAY. Sure, after 60-90 minutes I can still sound like a wannabe Pavarotti, (in some ways I am better sounds/acting than ever) but it is not easy to get there any more.
But EVERYDAY I focus on my instrument and career. EVERYDAY I vocalize a little bit, even if that just means humming to melt away from congestion from the chords. I’m very sensitive that way.
But before every LIVE performance and EVERY class I teach, I focus myself, warm-up my instrument (Mind, Body, Voice) and prepare to rock.
I hope I can instill this work ethic in all my students. I promise if you have this work ethic you will never go through what Mariah Carey went through on New Years Eve.
However, you can always ignore me, skip learnign how to be a real artist and hope to become a reality star.