The Rising of Art

Do you ever look around at all the budget cuts towards the Arts and feel discouraged?

Do you look at where money is being poured like honey, and wonder,
Why isn’t this going into what matters most to me?

Sports teams having NO problem paying their players millions of dollars, and you walk by another busker on the street begging for change or a dollar, for their incredible music.

Why this HUGE discrepancy?

How are we as Artists to make a living when we feel so devalued by society?

Where are those thriving communities that not only value the Arts, but are committed to growing and investing in them?

Does it even exist?

 

In 2000, Bruce Springsteen wrote a sobering song about Asbury Park, NJ, his adopted musical hometown where he began his career at The Stone Pony bar in the 80’s.

Named, My City of Ruins, he lamented on the sad and dismal state of what was once a thriving arts scene,

Young men on the corner
like scattered leaves
the boarded up windows
the empty streets

At one time, the Rat Pack filled concert halls, and the boardwalk rumbled with vibrant visitors.  Riots and waste had transformed the landscape into a ghost town, questionably safe, and decaying.

His heart was not alone in breaking.  In fact, many investors were eyeing this shore town, and seeing potential.

And something began to take shape.  A revitalization……and a transformation.

In 2015, from the same stage, Bruce introduced a new song, Atlantic City, musing,
“But maybe everything that dies someday comes back. Maybe Asbury Park is back?”

 

Packing up and leaving New York City after living there for 19 years was a lot for me.  I love the city.  And one of the TOP reasons it resonates with me so much is the culture seeping out of every street.

You can throw a penny and hit some kind of theater, music venue, museum, or sculpture.

People travel from all over the world to see
Broadway Shows
NYC Ballet
The Metropolitan Opera
The Guggenheim Museum
Carnegie Hall

And it’s not just established artists, there are TONS of opportunities for new playwrights, Off Off Broadway productions, small galleries to showcase new artists, and music venues for those just growing their fan base.

The city is about developing your Artistry AND showcasing it.

Moving down to the Jersey Shore, I found myself asking,
Will I find inspiration down here?
Will I find culture down here?

Most of all,
Will I find community down here?

My fiance had spoken about Asbury Park, and while we had experienced an amazing New Year’s Eve party at the Asbury Hotel seeing local band Remember Jones, I still had not had the chance to really explore.

Last weekend, we drove into Asbury, and what took most of the time was finding a parking space.

Asbury was packed.

Packed with all ages, twenty somethings on dates, older couples having a night out together, and families walking along the boardwalk.

I was enchanted, but here was the part that stood out to me the most….
The number of live music venues and galleries.

They were everywhere and opening up new.  Indeed, Bruce posed a powerful question back in 2015 that was being answered with a resounding YES.

Asbury Park is back, and even more so, being funded by patrons, and investors that see the value of Art.  They are specifically putting their energy into what lights people up.

And walking along the boardwalk, staring at the full moon, I felt my inner light shine brighter.  Inspiration was here.  Art is alive here.

Art is valued here.

And all I want to do now is tap into this community and create.  It’s nourishing.

Do you have this in your life?
What is your community like?
How does that affect your Art and making a living from it?

What would it be like if you DID have this?
What could be possible for you then?

Back on that shocking election day in November of 2016, I sent out an email titled,
What Trump means for your Creativity

The response was enormous, and the cry unified.

I have watched Artists galvanize in ways they never had before in the face of their livelihood being threatened.

And the call was,
We need Art more than ever now.
Your voice matters.

Walking along the streets on Asbury, it wasn’t just the fact that so many new venues were opening, it was the fact that they were FULL.

Full of audiences hungry for Art.

There is a demand here.

And all I can hear is Bruce’s famous song, The Rising.

 

For us to thrive, we need to have community, and have an audience that not only GETS you but VALUES you. Find your community.  Isolation only leads to further suffering.  We don’t get there alone.

The lead singer of Remember Jones, Anthony, shared with me his 13 piece band has grown to profit specifically on the fan base built at Asbury.
Morgan, a theatre professional, is renovating an old downtown vaudeville theater, the Savoy, into a performance space, with 64 micro-apartments on the floors above for musicians and artists.

If you are in a small town, or community that doesn’t have culture, look to communities that do.  What’s incredible about the internet, is the ability to reach people across the world with your Art.

Know they are out there, and they are hungry.
Know people are lining up on streets to see great work.
Know investors are seeking the next great space to blow up with creativity.

We are stronger together.

Revitalizing the power of Art.

The Validation Effect

Do you ever find yourself in front of your audience, and are completely confused by their lukewarm reaction?

Do you feel like you are doing everything you can, practically standing on your head, and yet the acclaim just isn’t happening?

What causes the cheers?
What causes the audience to get up on their feet and scream for more?

It can be very easy to start spiraling into,
I must be doing something wrong.

Or even more so,
I must not be very good.

And we watch these incredible Artists, who just seem to have it all:
Loving what they do, and thriving.

What is the deal??

 

On New Year’s Eve I went to see an incredible band I had never seen before at the Asbury Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ.  My man and I showed up, ready for festivities, and I had no expectations about the music.

As soon as they took the stage, I knew I was in for something special.

The musicians all came out, and started a rocking jam, and my whole body began moving in response.

Then, the three backup singers came out, and introduced the front man, who bounded onto the stage, picked up the mic, and launched into their first song, his voice exploding into the space.

And then I started screaming like a teenager, my eyes widening.

They were amazing!  The band was so tight, the lead singer capturing my total attention.  I could feel energy rising all over me, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

There were three backup singers, who came out and did solos.  The first was doing Beyoncé covers, and was off the charts.  She was fierceness personified…..

Again, totally captivated.

And then the second female singer sang her solo, and something changed.

I stopped dancing.  I wasn’t singing along.  I started to look around the room, and my mind began to wander. It was confusing at first, as the singer was gorgeous.  She was tall, blond, and stunning…..a beautiful package.  But something was missing…..

I went from feeling SO connected to the band and the singers, to feeling strange.  And as I took in the moment and how I was feeling, I remembered being on stage myself. I remembered belting my face off, and just not getting the reaction I wanted.  Even worse, I remembered losing my audience, and feeling so confused.

I used to be the pretty package too….

In the Fall of 2012, I was hired by a very up and coming choreographer to be a part of the new musical Zelda.  This was a HUGE moment for me, as I was going to be working with Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn.  There were plans to take it to Broadway eventually, and the cast was made up of some of the best in the business.

I thought, I’ve arrived!

We were doing an out of town production and I showed up for the first day of rehearsal so excited.  The choreographer came up to me and said,
We are so glad you are here!

They gave me this awesome solo vocal feature in one of the most exciting numbers in the show, where I got to strut down the center of the stage, and just let it rip.

I was beside myself. 

And yet…..it seemed to never work.  The choreographer kept giving me notes about this moment.  She must have changed it every time we rehearsed it, and I was so confused.

I felt like I was taking her notes every time, and yet I kept seeing her stoic face.  I kept feeling she wasn’t happy and this exciting moment just wasn’t happening.

And I knew it was me……

Yet, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing WRONG.

What had changed from the callback where the whole creative team was over the moon to have me, to rehearsal where I seemed to be falling flat?

All my insecurities about my singing came roaring to the surface, and I was doubting the moment and HOW I was performing.  I was doubting my voice, my ability, and my presence.

Worst of all, the choreographer became more and more distant from me.  Before the show began, we had spoken about collaborating on a choreographic project.

Once the show was over, she didn’t return my emails.

And I never worked with her again or Frank Wildhorn again.  In fact, the show fell away.  It never went on to Broadway.

And a month after the show closed, my whole life fell apart, beginning with my marriage.

 

The pretty package I had tried SO hard to keep together all fell away. And something really surprising happened…..

I found my true confidence as an Artist, and started to take real risks, no longer concerned with HOW I looked. I had a total resurgence in my career, and when my next vocal solo was given to me in a production of “The Little Mermaid”, I not only nailed it in my audition, but also in rehearsal AND in performance.

And the director?   We are still friends, and she was thrilled with my work.

I went from relying completely on external validation to trust and confidence in WHO I was at the mic.

 

What would it mean to you to have this with your Art?
How would this affect your life?

What would you finally be able to CREATE because you let go of the fear and just went for it?

New Year’s Eve was such a strong reminder of what sets apart Artists that make it, and the ones that are in a constant struggle.

The front man and the other female singer were so solid in WHO they were, that they were able to CONNECT with the audience from a place of partnership, not validation.

I wasn’t doubting them or their ability, because they were solid in their gifts.

They were pretty on the outside AND inside.  The package was WHOLE.

And this not only translated to them both singing their faces off, but me as an audience member LOVING every minute of it.

This is what I lived for on the stage.

And I remember the sting of isolation.  I remember feeling so unworthy, and the pain of self doubt.

Have you felt this?

 

Let the wall come down.  Know that you come to your audience as ALL of you.  Let them see you, and place your attention of building the relationship WITH them, not asking them to validate you.

Claim your power.  This is your birthright as an Artist.

Step to the mic and share your beautiful gifts this year.

I see you, and your light is brilliant.