I have always thought myself a renaissance man and more importantly, an artist. An artist who takes pride in the craft but goes far beyond that of a craftsman in his work.
I also am very clear on my thoughts about artistry…both my own and my views and opinions on others. My views, before I share them, are without a doubt always well thought through, because that’s part of who I am as an artist…I think things through. I research and problem solve and weight my options ten times before I make a decision. Then once I make a decision, I rethink it again to be sure of myself.
I think the biggest decision that an artist makes is to put their work in front of an audience. I recently had three rough weeks of typhoid aka the flu of 2013 followed by a cold which left my chords covered in phlegm. Yes, this happened exactly when I had a huge show looming. The hottest club for cabaret in New York City asked me to do a “One Night Only” show. FINALLY!!! T. Oliver Reid will be playing 54 Below.
Now, there are lots of things that factor into singing while sick…
Will the mucous stay off my chords? No, it won’t
Is it possible to cough your voice away? Yes, it is…you will within days
What are the chances that phlegm will take up residency in the most delicate part of your voice? 97% probability
If I can’t sing at my best, can I cancel? Absolutely not, if you are building relationships with clubs and booking managers. You can only cancel and/or wear bedroom slippers onstage if you are Patti Lupone. You can flail around onstage because your voice is not working, if you are Bernadette Peters. You can only lip-sync a live event in you are a huge recording artist, yes…Beyoncé. The rest of us have to outwit our voices and mix craftsmanship with artistry as best we can.
My show was a great success in my eyes and in the eyes of almost everyone who has seen it, so when I was reviewed and the critic said things that were obvious to all, that I had a cold and was battling it and then said that the songs were vocally challenging for me… well, I take offense.
I am an extremely smart singer, I wouldn’t get on a stage and sing something that I had not worked through within an inch of its life. I know every song in my show inside out. I don’t make excuses which is why I never mentioned that I was going through it and wasn’t sure I’d even be able to sing a note. I knew if worse came, I’d give a helluva “sprechgesang” performance.
Sometimes the artist has to forego perfection in order to make a performance for the public…we can’t always perform at 100% but we will always perform at 100% of what we have. Restructuring songs and rethinking vocal choices on the stop so that the audience gets a great show. That kind of work is as much craftsman as artist. You have to know yourself and your material in order to work like that…I am that man…that artist.
I take every opinion with a grain of salt but don’t think that I don’t weigh everything that is said because I do. I want my work to be amazing in every way, so when it is questioned, I will always take the comments and weigh them. These comments had no merit.
But thanks for your opinion…and remember what I’ve accomplished in less than two years… Yes, I’m extremely fortunate and totally blessed for what is happening but I’m also more talented than I would normally say, given my southern upbringing. I direct, help arrange music, write the script, choose the musicians and sing…. SING!!! I don’t leave any stone unturned in my work. I self-edit and know what I want to bring to the stage and I make sure that product makes it.
Think of me as a modern day Noel Coward with a great singing voice…your opinions are inconsequential to me…unless they align with my own!