Then, as I walked in front of the auditioning panel, I felt those same ankles tremble. My feet, in those kick-ass heels caught the contagion. Then my knees - leaving me feeling like I might have been on boat for too long. Listening to the introductory chord of the song, my mouth opened, the nerves that had been pooling in my stomach traveled up my trachea and blarrrted from my throat. Breathless, unsupported... trembly. My right hand moved from my side and pushed against my diaphragm to add some manual strength.
|Ann-Margret from her 1966 USO tour to Vietnam|
Me, standing in front of a panel of people prepping for a singing audition? I freak the fuck out. My body betrays me, I can't support my tone. The song which had power and control at home in front of my daughter and husband - becomes this mediocre thing. In my ears it becomes a sharing of 'meh' with people. Leaving me wondering, is that note flat or sharp? Second-guessing each breath, each belt, each tone.
Later, when I'd had a chance to calm down, to get rid of my vocal heebie-jeebies, they tested my range. No longer nervous, I could hit that out of the park. Now that I'm older, my used-to-be lyric soprano has tempered and I can hit low notes, nice chesty notes, my own version of Nina Simone notes. I've still got some range at the top. My break isn't too defined. I can belt the hell out a song when I'm not nervous. I had to be taught to sing softly - I Ethel Mermaned my way through singing when I was young. Great big voice, no control. Took me years to sing pianissimo.
I have been auditioning for 34 freaking years. Since I was 11. At what point in a performer's career do the nerves disappear? At what point is my body going to believe in me?