God Almighty. Do you see what I mean, people?
It was intermission at the DSO Friday night, and hubby and I were just talking with a nice stranger about how mesmerized we were with the first half of the program: the Concerto de Aranjuez of Roderigo with the sweet caresses of guitarist Xuefei Yang, and the hypnotic Sidereus by Osvaldo Golijov. And we were talking, making nice, looking down from the 4th floor of the lobby to where people were sitting with their drinks. And this nice stranger, after we share about our musical interests, says with her lilting Texas accent, “I sing too, but…you wouldn’t pay to hear me sing!”
“I’m a mezzo-soprano…” she said, and I thought to myself, WHAT? You identified yourself as a mezzo-soprano. That’s not something a non-singer would do, nor is it something that a run-of-the-mill amateur singer would do. Granted, you don’t have to be a pro, but look–you’re a mezzo who is saying that I wouldn’t pay to hear you sing, which is code for “I suck,” because you don’t have to be good to get paid, and you don’t have to be getting paid to be good.
But I don’t think you suck–I haven’t even heard you! You’re a singer and not owning it!
Honey, now I WANT to hear you sing!
That’s what I should have said, but I didn’t. And I’m thinking, now maybe I should start actually calling people out. Because I’m sick of this kind of talk: “Oh, I sing, but…”
It’s especially bad with women, too, because back in 1875–before short skirts and suffrage–if you were a woman who had any kind of musical skill, you NEVER said a word about being good at it, because it was rude to do so. The way to be polite was to downplay your abilities and even deliberately make mistakes in front of listeners so that you wouldn’t look like any brazen stage whore, because no one wanted to marry that.
I’m gonna start calling you out because right now, it’s 2011 and you can’t afford not to own yourself. So own it! Or my next post is gonna be about YOU.