Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Singer's Salon: A Revelation. (Part 1)

When I first started the Singer's Salon here in Chicago, I had a couple of things in mind, but the main one was to have an opportunity for my students to perform on a regular basis. The time honored recital, while useful in many ways, has certain limitations. Recitals seem better for kids somehow, or perhaps for the classical singers among us, but not so great for adult jazz people, music theater singers, and just plain wrong for pop singers, R&B folks and rock and rollers in general. I wanted something of the real performance about it, something with a little cachet, and maybe, possibly a way to share commraderie, information and skills with each other. There are plenty of open mics about, (You can say that again!) and even some geared toward singers in particular. Most however, are geared toward the singer/songwriter who often plays guitar or keys to accompany themselves, or bands, duos, etc who play instruments.  There are a very few that have an accompanist on hand to lend a hand (or two!) and those are most often attended by the aspiring cabaret artist or musical theater actor/singer. Naturally we love all of those types of singers and can in fact, be counted among them.
Still, I wanted my Salon to be a place where folks were welcome to do ALL possible kinds of music-no exceptions. So not only do we have an accompanist on keys (Rock on Maggie Dahlberg!) But we try to facilitate, when possible, the meeting up of singers with musicians if possible for a little help on songs that ain't really designed for piano accompaniment. Thus my esteemed colleagues, members of my band, The Red Apples (Props to Ron Lowy, and Dave Lenef, in particular) have been really awesome about lending their talents to the singers and sometimes even going so far as to rehearse ahead of time with people who are so motivated. And we welcome other instrumentalists to help out any time naturally!
Jeanne Williams singing at a Salon at Deagan Music

There is one other thing I very much wanted for the Salon, and which I have tried hard to create: a place where people can come and sing and work through their fears of performance by having a non-judgmental audience that understands this: fear can make you perform REALLY BADLY. I speak of this from years of experience. As someone you used to be crippled by paralyzing fear when performing, (singing in particular) I remembered all too well, the times I had been to open mics, or other singing opportunities, only to be surrounded with people who gave me the "psych out" once over and clearly hoped that I would fall flat on my face with a loud thud. This does not help.

I have come to realize from my years of teaching that encouragement is a powerful tool, and one that brings out the best in people. Non-constructive criticism and negativity serves only to pull people down further into the abyss in which they are so often, already drowning. So the folks who attend the Singer's Salon are aware of the basic philosophy behind it, and are wonderful adherents to the idea. And this brings me to the main purpose of my post.
Stay tuned for the second installment!


  1. love the whole inspired idea behind the Singer Salon and couldn't agree more about the power of positive vibes and encouragement-- just look at The Voice, so much more enjoyable to watch than the old American Idol with its (Simon's in particular) put downs. Looking forward to the next one Wendy! Rosemary Hurwitz

  2. Thanks for the comment Rosemary! I agree with your agreement! It actually does work better to encourage, support and instruct. Great to have you on board!