The Dread of Stars
Check this out: You are lucky to have found a super record label and they agree to sign you on. You have a great voice and have received a lot of compliments which have of course made you feel like the best thing in the entertainment industry. A 16-track album that turned out so good and hit the airwaves with energy and got your pockets rocking hard. “Big boy” your close friends call you and “waddup” everyone would holla when you drive by in your new hummer.
Everything seems to be going well and you’ve got a line up of shows to do for the season. Shopping, rehearsing, clubbing, hooking up signing autographs and all what naughts…the superstar life on a fab lane. The show comes and you arrive the venue. You hear the burst of the audience as your name is announced. “Awesome,” you think as you lift up yourself to mount the stage. But what happens as you get on stage? A huge crowd all screaming and trampling on each other just to have a snapshot and get to see your face. This is the pure taste of stardom! What so many youths could sacrifice anything to have! You have been blessed with it. You get carried away as the DJ plays the intro and then you are thinking of the first line of your own song! Are you nervous? I hope not.

Of course you should be singing the third line by now and all that you keep repeating is “everybody put your hands up!” Please! Please! Please Mr singer! Enough! I could be bored with that because my hands have been up  even before you came on stage.  Mmmmh! E be like say yawa wan gas. Your manager is on stage pretending to be a stage worker. He comes to change your mic knowing very well that nothing is wrong with the one you were initially using. And he whispers , “Ol boy wetin dey happen nau? You no fit sing again? Make I bring water?” You send him a huge smile as if to show gratitude for the mic change and you say, “I don forget the song.” He beckons you to walk with him towards the DJ as though there was a mix-up and he quickly sings the first line. You are grateful and the DJ scratches his disc and the show begins.
This is the effect of the worst case scenario of stage fright…going blank on stage! This can really be disheartening and can affect the rest of your performance. And bet you, the audience will detect  and detest it! This is a popular case with artistes who are ungrounded. Mind you, it can happen to anyone.  A whole lot of stars you know today, home and abroad still have stage fright and invest a lot to learn how to manage it.
Here and now, I will share tips to help you manage this sticky and universally dreaded nerve.
Tips to help you perform with confidence on stage
The Beauty of Purpose
It is sad that the majority of aspiring singers are singing because they want to become stars. This is a self-centered purpose and only leads you further away from that goal. Your mindset as a singer matters a lot. You should have one question for yourself on your mind as you mount the stage. And that should be: “how can I reach out to these ones who have come to be entertained? How can I inspire them with my talent into greater things of life?” Many singers have superb voices and you can easily stand out of the crowd with this extra something, this mindset of wanting to touch lives or give back. Remember, most shows are paid and you want to give your audience some value for their money, else you lose them. Hence, note that performance shouldn’t be about you but what you want your audience to experience from listening to you.

This comes with confidence. The voice is an emotional tool and your audience can easily tell from the sound of your voice if you are not confident, have self-doubt or if something has gone wrong and you are trying to hide it. I have seen cases where people walk out of the hall when they notice a singer or a speaker did not come prepared or is exhibiting stage fright. In other words, if you are not comfortable with yourself as you perform, you make your audience feel uneasy, defeating their purpose of coming for your show.
Your self-confidence streams through if you have done your home work thoroughly and that includes: warming up your voice properly, practicing your lyrics, maintaining a positive attitude towards your ability, avoiding drugs, rehearsing and interpreting your song, giving it your own meaning and flavour and most importantly having in mind to always be aware of your audience. Never back them. Involve them in your performance as much as necessary and you would have touched and transformed more  lives than you can ever imagine.
More to come in the next edition. Meanwhile if you are an aspiring or professional singer and you have vocal issues or questions on vocal empowerment/ training, send ma an email.

Keep singing!

Author: Laura Etemah

Laura Etemah is a Nigeria/ UK trained an award-winning and full-time Musician, Music Teacher, Author, Vocal Coach and the Director of Lee Vocal Studios and Lee Ellie Music School. As the music woman who loves children and a highly sought-after Music Teacher for children, Laura is also a strong advocate for the music education of the Nigerian child. More so, she has a passion for helping speakers, singers, musical artistes and aspiring vocalists of all styles and abilities, develop the full potential of their voices. The birth of Lee Vocal Studios came through as a result of this. Laura is also an expert in organizing fun and engaging music workshops for children in singing, piano, guitar, violin and recorder. Her multi-instrument playing skills has paved way for her in the music teaching business, making her a force to reckon with in the industry. Laura uses the Nigerian, British and American curriculum in disseminating her music lectures and this is the reason why she is the most patronized music teacher in Nigeria and across West Africa. Laura also teaches music to adults up to the age of 70! Proving to all that anyone can learn music so long as the interest, time and energy are there. The benefits of music are awesome and adults can rewire their brains for higher achievements and rejuvenate the abilities of the brain by taking music lessons. In 2006, Laura won the the Star Quest Music Reality TV Show, with her band – Daccord; and went on a tour with Tu Baba, Tony Tetuilla, P-Square, The Natives and a host of other Nigerian music stars to the UK to perform at the MOBO awards. Her band, Daccord also went for a 10-city tour with a host of Nigerian music stars (Star Trek, 2006) and performed alongside Akon and LL Cool J at the Star Mega Jam, 2006. In 2011, Laura was awarded by the ex-Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) for her successful NYSC music community projects carried out to benefit the secondary school students of the Surulere Community, in Lagos State, Nigeria. One of the projects included the audio and video recording of the popular song – Good People of Nigeria, which is mostly played on the 1st of October to commemorate the independence of Nigeria. Watch here: Watch the video documentary of my NYSC projects here: Laura is also well known for her bestselling book, Sing Like a Superstar, which has helped many singers, artistes, choristers, musicians, producers and choir directors to discover the true potential of their voices. The book is also accompanied by a downloadable voice training CD that has proved to build the voices of thousands of singers. In 2011, Laura became the first African woman to obtain a Master of Arts in Music Production from Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom. She also holds a first degree in Geology from Delta State University, Abraka –Nigeria; and a number of diplomas in music. Laura has worked in several recording studios, taught and is still teaching music privately and in many nursery, primary and secondary schools. Laura is also very much in the business of training groups of singers and choristers. Laura is currently based in Lagos-Nigeria, teaching music production, instrument and singing classes.


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