Vulnerability is the currency of intimacy. I don’t think that I’m any sort of great musical legend, but I do believe that audiences resonate with me because I sing from a place of deep vulnerability. I had a chat with a stranger the other day about music and life, and they told me about their struggle to sing their original songs to strangers because it’s like airing dirty laundry—it’s just way too private. But I think that the more specific a story is, the more appeal it has. A song about my very specific and private inner pain, can actually be someone else’s story, and if my private is their private, then it’s really all public but we’re all just hiding it.
All of this is background to say that two weeks ago I performed a song that I had only written a few weeks before. I was still memorizing the words, and therefore still wrestling with the subject matter. As I write this, I’m still wrestling.
It’s strange performing new material. Partly because I don’t know if the listener will ‘get it’, but also because I’m baring a truth about myself that I’m still working through. Performing older songs is comparatively different because the subject matter is ancient history to me; over and done with. I can laugh at myself about it. But with the recent stuff…the open wound is probably still bleeding.
Despite these reservations, it’s honestly exhilarating to share my recent soul-music. It’s like therapy. And when I really get to talk to individual audience members about it after a show, it’s even more enriching. It’s what India.Arie would call a SongVersation.
So, at this time of writing, I have a very new song called ‘Loud’ that I performed for the first time for Women.Everywhere. All of the songs in my set for that show had never been publicly performed before, but this particular song was the most raw. It’s the kind of song that makes me want to run and hide. But, when the song was being birthed, I received the call that though the song was for me, it was not just for me.
Because I’m naturally a quiet and introspective person, it’s pretty strange to me that I wrote a song called Loud. I struggle with voicing my opinion. I struggle with being different. And I wish, I’ve always wished, that I could just be how everyone wants me to be to just save myself the drama that comes with being contrary. The words that come from my mouth and my actions sometimes fall short in the eyes of others, and in those moments I find myself wishing that they would’ve just given me the script—tell me the words to say and tell me how to behave so that everyone would be happy.
They tell you to be yourself. But no one tells you how lonely that is sometimes.
As I said, I’m still wrestling. And as always, I have a song about it.