In almost every moment of my life, I’m trying to be more: more relatable, smarter, more attentive, more everything. I don’t trust people to accept me as I am. It’s exhausting, not just for me, but in some measure for the people I engage with, whether they are friends or strangers. However, it’s carried me through my life for fifty years and at some deep level I remain convinced that it’s necessary, and that without all that work no one will hear me, or love me.
It’s the same with singing, except that there I get immediate feedback that it doesn’t work. It interferes with the relaxed connection between singer and listener, and it pushes the voice out of alignment, affecting its intonation and ability toring. It’s also inefficient; I get tired much more quickly, just as I get tired when spending time with people, trying so hard to “connect” rather than allowing the connection to develop naturally and on its own terms.
When I listen to my favorite singers, they guide me towards another way. They are enough in any given moment. Their voice sounds however it sounds that day and communicates whatever they are feeling, without any extra effort, just the simple radiance of their presence, the gift of saying, “I am here with you, and there is something I’d like to share. I trust you to listen as well as you can.”