The path to landing a recording contract or grabbing the lead in a Broadway musical is paved with often exhausting roadwork that requires discipline, determination and honing your craft. Once you find your voice you need to take it out looking for opportunities
to grow in the light of an audience. Ideally you want an agent to do the legwork, management to handle bookings, and various support staff to make you look good, feel great and stay healthy.
In the meantime there are opportunities all around you to be seen and heard you just need to uncover them. According to national radio personality Devon O’Day singers should look for ways to engage their gifts through community service.
“One of the most important areas that singers, songwriters, and artists often miss, is the service aspect of what they do,” O’Day said. “There are organizations that meet weekly, that need inspiration, motivation, and your music.”
O’Day is a published author and is sister of actress Faith Ford of the classic CBS-TV sit-com Murphy Brown. She suggests that singers work solo or as a group to create an inspiring presentation framed with a topic. It can be increasing awareness about environmental issues or things such as homelessness or AIDS awareness.
“You can call business, charitable organizations, and business clubs and do a ‘free’ keynote performance, gather email addresses, and sell lots of CD’s if you have applicable music. These same people will book you for house concerts, company conventions, and are more appreciative than any club where you could play.”
O’Day feels one of the greatest benefits is leaving with the feeling that you’ve done something worthwhile for someone with your gifts and talents. Tom Henry, a singer-songwriter in the outskirts of Friday Harbor, Wash. recently gained national recognition on CNN for a project that grew out of our country’s economic downturn. He wrote a song, I’m Looking For A Bailout, and created an organization that sets aside 50 percent of the sales of the song towards helping people in dire financial straits. Check out the song here.
“We’ve received thousands of hits on the site so far,” Henry said. “We hold they key to help ourselves.”
So what are some of your personal passions? What inspires you to sing? Is there a community theatre or professional theatre nearby that regularly holds open auditions? Getting stage experience is invaluable. O’Day feels there are endless possibilities whether you’re in an urban, suburban or rural area.
“You can use your gift for music to plant seeds is in school programs, university classrooms, in stores that don’t sell music,” she said. “Everyone is looking for a way to bring in traffic these days.”
She also cites hospitals as a great place for sharing your gift and gaining positive exposure in your community.
“Hospitals need healing music, and many have programs for singers to share their gift to those who need it most,” O’Day said. “If you think of your gift as a service business it opens the window to the world in how to use it.”
Look for ways to use your gift to plug into your community. It’s a great way to grow a fan base, network with other creative people, strengthen your voice and gain confidence in your performance skills.