Singing on Steroids
The show must go on. This phrase was drilled into my head as a kid when I was performing in musicals. I can honestly say that in my 30 year career I’ve never missed a show. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been sick… the demands of being on the road often mean lack of sleep, stressful travel and lots of pressure: perfect conditions for getting sick… and I have, many times.
The mindset of the show must go on has always gotten me through. I might have to stay in bed all day, but when it’s showtime, the adrenaline kicks in and the body performs. Sometimes it’s a surreal experience, as if I’m present, but observing. Perhaps after having been in this position so many times, it’s somewhat of a comfort to know that my body and voice won’t let me down.
Last month I had a couple of concerts to perform in Barcelona. I was feeling invincible before the show, and looking forward to working with a new percussionist, Toni Mangas from Seville, and guitarist Ruben Portillo, from Malaga. We were working in five star conditions, were well rehearsed, and enjoying a good vibe. Perhaps through over-confidence and thinking that even getting caught out in the rain without a coat couldn’t hurt me, I pushed myself way too hard leading up to the shows, stressing over details, trying to please too many people. And I got a whopping flu and lost my voice completely. But the show must go on … even if, in this case, it meant taking cortisone shots to get me through the show.
The show went on, and it was fine, although not my greatest performance. The funny thing about steroid shots is that they work remarkably well, but for the days after you come off them, you feel like you’re gonna die. Really scary stuff!
So, what did I learn? Notes to self: even after all your years of experience, you have to learn to slow down and take a deep breath when you start getting ahead of yourself. Prepare, prepare, of course. Keep variables down to a minimum (words of advice from my scientist friend Alex… applies to anything). Take extra care of yourself before big events, even if you’re feeling ‘invincible’ and excited… sometimes that’s when you let your guard down and do silly things, like over-stressing over details and going out in the rain without a coat. Basic stuff. Sometimes it’s good to get back to square one. And don’t worry, the show will go on.