Monday, November 7, 2011

"I was cranky, and I lost my high notes"

Dearest OMG sent me a few copies of October's Classical Singer magazine, for which she interviewed me on the topic of dealing with negative reviews. And, after flipping through her well-spun narrative, my eyes settled on a piece entitled "Does Size Matter?"

At first I wasn't sure whether I'd forgive the title.

But speaking of body image and singing careers . . . gee, it's validating when a trade magazine covers something mere weeks after I've blogged about it. Vocal teacher and CS contributor Michelle Latour surveyed singers at the 2010 conference in LA regarding body image, body size, and the impact of both on singers. Check out this gem:
"Dramatic soprano Barbara DeMaio Caprilli revealed, 'I was forced to lose 60 pounds under the threat of being fired when I was in a Young Artist Program in the early 1990s. At the time I did not know that I had Celiac Disease. I had to go to 900 calories a day in order to keep my job. I was cranky, and I lost my high notes.'"
You have to understand us: there's something especially crazymaking about gluten and thyroid-related diseases. My doctors and my nutritionist all tell me that I have one, yet I still suspect that I'm exaggerating or making all of this up, or that I've simply somehow misunderstood how to lose weight. Like, even when I'm counting all of my calories, fiber, protein, water, etc. and exercising like a monster, my body somehow knows that I like the 1280 calories I'm eating and if I could just like them less, then nutritional math would apply to me. Come on, Scarlet, it's easy! If you just forever cut out wine, cocktails, dessert, dairy, soy, grains, breads, sugar, chocolate, baked goods, cruciferous vegetables, strawberries, and meat, you could totally be in shape. You're just not trying hard enough.

I know it's harsh. But if you get it, you get it, and I want to be 'gotten.' On the upside, I am a powerhouse from all of my exercise. If you are reading this, chances are I could detach my left leg, leave it in the middle of the floor, and it could single-leggedly destroy you and your entire family in a cage match. Apply here.

But more to the point, 93 percent of singers surveyed agree that body image influences their singing and ability to communicate on stage. Laura Ockey points out, " is difficult for the audience to concentrate...if the body-type is too wrong... ."

Meaning, bottom line, that it's about stage presence and stage presence is about belief. Am I communicating the joy, rage, comfort, humor, sensuality, and wistfulness of my songs or am I communicating insecurity, unease, failure, guardedness? Can the audience believe what I'm singing in this singer/songwriter role, as I look, dress, sound, and act?

Or, the harder question: Can I believe myself? YES. Yes, I can. And this is the work, the work, the work.


  1. I expect your fighting skills are an ancient form of salsa dancing, once used by the Iberian tribes of what is now Granada, Spain.

  2. Ah, yes. The one-legged salsa tribes of Thpain!