It may seem a big risk to quit a job and put all your hopes on a new career as a singer, especially when you have a problem with performing, as I did. But this was also one of my major goals. I always said - if this doesn't work, if I don't sell any cd's, at least at the end of the year I will have become a seasoned, experienced and confident performer which in itself will open new doors of opportunity for me later - I will not be coming back the same person. So this was a quest - to get the experience of performing, build my confidence, free my fears and stage-anxieties. This was, in a practical sense, the most important of my goals.
Back in Amsterdam I'd done a couple of small performances, but I was always nervous, and I didn't enjoy the prospect as it approached. I enjoyed having done it, but I never looked forward to it, which held me back from doing it as often as I needed in order to get used to it, or good at it. This is a conundrum. I need the experience, but I'm too scared to go out and get it.
In England I didn't pursue any opportunities for performing, and when my friend Nigel in London suggested I could do some "open-mic" sessions on my visit, I pulled the reigns - whoa, I'm still not ready.
I wondered when I would be ready. What situation would arise to inspire and motivate me to take that first step. . . and HOW MANY steps would I have to take before I started looking forward to performing because I wasn't scared anymore?
I imagined my fear as a dragon that I would have to face and battle and slay at some point on my journey - and it WOULD have to be done - you can't be a singer if you're afraid of singing for a public.
At Terme d'Astor, one Thursday night, I had a concert to give for around 50 people, strangers all of them. A mic and amplifier were set up next to a high stool placed on the intimate terras. When I agreed to do this the day before I was puzzled by the absence of any fear or nerves whatsoever. On the day, and right up to the moment of taking my place on the stool and starting to sing... still no fear. I sang with pleasure for 50 people, talked to them confidently in between songs, and sat and talked and ate with them for a while before I did a second set. I had come to face a dragon, but he never showed up.
For me this is a wonder, a miracle. I still don't understand what it is about this place or situation that has allowed me to shed all my fears of performing, and just do it as if I've been doing it for years. But I don't need to understand, I'm just happy that it is so - because this is permanent. I know I can perform on any stage to any public anywhere - my dragon has fled. And this fills me with excitment for the adventures that are to come.