A new rumor was started at the Barbie Convention in Cleveland this past July. That is, that Colleen is "fearless." Hmmm...oh, that's me they're talking about! Me, the girl that used to do just about anything to get out of standing up in front of people in public. Me, who actually dropped a class in college when I found out there would be an oral speech at the end of the semester required. Me, who has been so painfully shy all my life and avoided embarrassment at all costs. Are they really saying *I'm* fearless?
Well, I guess I can understand why they'd think that, actually.
Here's the story:
The theme of this year's Convention was "Barbie and the Rockers." PERFECT theme for me - you all know by now how much I love rock music, and the 80's, and since the line of dolls Barbie and the Rockers were hugely popular back in that time frame, well...it was shaping up to be my most favorite convention EVER.
Anyway, I got the convention "packet" (actually a little USB drive in the shape of a purse - CUTE!) and looking through it, noticed there was a karaoke contest on the big stage at one of the events, and that the selection committee would only pick 10 competitors. You had to write in your top 3 songs you'd like to perform and they'd check availability. Well, I love to sing karaoke. Normally it's in a small setting in a bar or something, or the occasional round of Sing Star or Rock Band 2 on my PS3. I thought, hey, let's give the big stage a whirl.
Well, the very next day I had my entry in the mail. I wanted to perform "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard. Thinking that's an iconic song of the 80's and that someone else might want to do it, too, I put down my second choice as "Round and Round" by RATT and "Kiss Me Deadly" by Lita Ford.
Then I set out to put together the greatest air band of all time. I got Catherine on drums, Jenny on lead guitar, Peg on bass, and Krissa on rhythm, and we became SMOLDERING PINK: CoCo (me), Raven (Cat), Starr (Jenny), Logan (Peg), and Kandy (Krissa). AND we got to do "Sugar." AND we volunteered to close the show.
I went to town with marketing this air band. I designed a logo, Cat and I built a "drum kit" out of cardboard supplied by our ninja groupie Lizzie. I got custom guitar picks made, I put logos on drumsticks for Cat. I created a merchandise page on Zazzle. We made buttons and flyers. Just like a real band, only fake. LOL!! We all live in different cities, but managed to communicate over the internet pretty well and talked about how we thought the show could go. I actually bought the CDG version of "Sugar" that I wanted to perform so that I could be sure the KJ had the right version. I sang the song every day in my car on the way to work, and sometimes on the way home, trying it different ways: raspy vs. normal, different improvisations at the end, etc.
Since it is, after all, 80's "glam" rock, the costume was also important. We discussed at length what we would wear. I bought hair extensions just like a real 80's rock star. Glitter eye liner. A denim jacket trimmed with chains. I brought my own mike stand trimmed in plenty of scarves in my signature color - turquoise.
We were ready.
The week of convention, we rehearsed briefly in my hotel room. With the music playing on my iPhone, it was quite an interesting rehearsal. They had karaoke in the lounge set aside for conventioneers the night before our performance. I took the stage. I can't even remember what all I sang that night, but it got me going. I've determined that I love the energy of an audience.
Thursday. We had a sound check. We went in the order of performance, so we were last to rehearse. Most people just tried out a portion of their songs. When we went on, the waiters were setting up tables in the ballroom, and hosts and hostesses were arriving. We went through our whole song, and it was awesome. Even the waiters were stopping to watch and listen. I'm loving the audience more and more.
Show time. We were to be back stage when the performer ahead of us was on. I noticed something odd. I wasn't nervous. I really wasn't. I thought that was very strange. Shouldn't I be nervous? Other band mates were. I'm the freakin' SINGER, and I'm freakin' SHY, why the heck am I not nervous?
The announcer introduces us and we take the stage. I grab a mike and put it on my fancy-schmancy stand. The others are in their places. The crowd is ready. I can't see them, though, because the spotlights are in my eyes. The thing I was most concerned about (hearing my cue chord since the beginning of the song is acapella) turned out to not be of any concern. Catherine hits her perfect 4-count and I start: "Step inside!" The others join in "Walk this way..." Back to me: "You and me, babe" Everyone: "HEY HEY".
I'm still not nervous. In fact, I'm having a ball. I've got the audience clapping along. I'm singing to the people I can actually see (about the first row of tables is all), I'm not reading the words on the monitor because I don't need to. I'm hamming it up with my band mates. It's literally like a dream come true. Except for the part where I almost tripped over a spatula - but that's another story, and it was really more funny than anything else.
Big finish! Group bow. Tossed the rest of the guitar picks into the audience, as well as the spare set of drumsticks. Just like a real rock concert. What a rush!! I didn't want it to end. I KNEW we had won that contest.
But, as it turns out, they pulled one of those "cutesy" contest things where everyone actually won. Everyone was amazing, that's for sure. But seriously - why advertise it as a contest if it isn't really? Ultimately it doesn't matter, because we knew we had won. If only in our hearts.
Afterwards, as folks were exiting the ballroom after the event, people kept coming by our table and telling us how amazing we were. Waiters came by and said they were glad they got to see us perform twice. One person came up to me and said, "wow - I thought you were shy. I had no idea!"
Later that night in karaoke, of course I had to sing again. And the following night. And the following night! LOL! I chatted with the KJ quite a bit, and he was so complimentary of me. He even put me in the rotation of singers without me asking. He said I had a stage presence that was infectious. He told my friends at the table in the lounge that I was truly fearless.
A few days ago I read a post on one of the Barbie bulletin boards commenting on our performance. She said that I was truly fearless.
Well, I have news. I'm not truly fearless. I actually am shy. But extraverted. Which seems like an odd combination, I know, but it happens. It's weird. And I'll talk about that in some future post. But that odd combination, I think, leads me to believe that performing on stage is something I do best. Because there's a separation between me and the audience. I can be a character, rather than myself. But what I'm finding out is that "on stage" character really is who I am. I feel comfortable there. So if that makes me "fearless", I'll wear that label with pride.
A lot of people who get nervous before going on stage for whatever reason, are afraid that the audience has a preconceived notion that the performance will be poor. I've found the opposite to be true. The audience wants to hear you, and they think you'll be good, and they're interested in what you have to say, whether you're making a speech, singing a song, playing an instrument, etc. They're interested, or they wouldn't be there. Now it's just up to you to push through that feeling of dread, channel that energy, and go for it.
Yeah, yeah, easier said than done. But look at me. I actually *dropped a class in college* because I didn't want to speak in front of the class. Now I'm comfortable singing in front of 800 people. Trust me, if I can do it, YOU can do it.