You know that even identical twins have different personalities, ideas and identities. They may look alike but those differences are what makes each one of them unique and authentically themselves. Of course we all have those differences, and our authenticity shines through when we embrace that uniqueness!

I heard a great song recently, it’s called Freckles by The Band Lawrence (you can watch it here) and it was the lyrics in the pre-chorus and the chorus that really grabbed my attention….

I hide the freckles above my knee
'Cause I'll be whoever they wanna see
But then I tell myself
You're kinda looking like a stranger
Why would you ever wanna change your...
Your freckles (You know you're beautiful!)
And you
Why would you listen to the loser
Why would you ever wanna lose your...
Your freckles*

When I heard these lyrics, it really struck me that if you cover up parts of you, then you are hiding away those parts of you that make you unique. You lose your authenticity and become a sort of stranger - you’re not yourself, you still don’t quite “fit in” and what have you achieved? Probably not what you set out to do, and the achievement might even feel a little bit hollow.

And, because I’m a voice nerd, I heard this theme come across in the way she uses her voice, too. In the pre-chorus, she uses more “accepted” vocals and styling but in the chorus itself, she lets loose with all the vocal agility and styling that we associate with her as a singer. She’s literally using her voice as a technique to get this point across - she’s hiding her uniqueness in the pre-chorus but the authenticity comes out in its full glory when she sings the chorus.

(Listen here for that bit, see if you notice it, too!)

And it’s the authenticity that draws us into a performance.

This is what audiences want to listen to - authentic sounds and lyrics that are unique. Even if you do a cover of a song, your own uniqueness changes that message, and your vocals sound different to the original - but it is no less authentic as long as you do your thing when you sing.

Your authentic self has always been inside you, you just have to know how to bring them out to play, especially when you want to sing. You have spent your whole life creating and cultivating them so why would you want to be someone else when you sing?

And I know, it may seem like the perfect fix. You pretend to be someone else when you perform so you don’t have to show up as yourself. Having this ‘character’ who performs for you seems so much easier than showing those parts of you that you want to hide.

But in reality, it’s so much harder!

Think about when you pretend to be a character, you have to learn who that other person is, then overlay that knowledge on top of yourself, and hide away all the parts of yourself that don’t match that character. Then when you perform, you can’t let any unique part of yourself shine through in case you’re ‘caught out’! And on top of all that, you have to perform at your best as well!

So it’s almost triple anxiety - first you have to pretend to be someone else, second you are worrying about coming across as inauthentic, and third, you still have to put on a great performance. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

When it comes to authenticity, you have to know who you are in order to be able to really get to the bottom of the problem. It’s no good trying to be someone else when you perform, because you add on those layers of unnecessary stress.

Here's my story...

One of the things that makes me authentic and unique as a performer is the way my voice works - technically I am a soprano. But my vocal range doesn't fit with the usual 'soprano tendencies' because I can comfortably sing all the way from low tenor notes to high soprano notes. It’s unusual, but not unheard of, to be able to sing both those low, velvety sounding notes AND the high, dramatic sounding notes. 

For almost my whole life, every time I sang, I was hiding away those parts that didn’t “fit” who I was trying to be. I'm a soprano - what business did I have singing super low notes? I even went so far as to make my voice sound lighter and softer to fit into the mould I thought I needed to be in. And my teachers at the time helped me to fit into that mould - because I hadn't shown them what I could really do. (Plus nobody had any imagination or freedom around voice types and narrow boxes were all we knew. So it wasn't anyone's fault, really!)

I was ignoring my unique abilities and kept trying to “make it work” to fit in. I was pushing aside parts of my voice I liked because I thought it would be rejected, therefore I would be rejected, and the resulting “I'm a fraud and someone will call me out on it!” anxiety was present nearly all the time. Not a very pleasant mental place to be for someone who loves to sing and considers it part of their personality.

Fortunately, I found an amazing teacher who showed me how to use my voice properly, and helped me to uncover and start working with all the things I had been hiding. It has made me a stronger vocalist, and a more authentic one too! What I once thought was “wrong” about my voice is quite simply authentic and unique - and it has opened so many more musical doors for me.

Dramatic dark notes? Check.

Ethereal high notes? Check.

Strong mix-belt? Double check.

All those things were just not possible without exploring my whole voice and learning to use it all properly. But the biggest thing that made a difference when I’d uncovered my whole voice, is that those “extra” anxieties just disappeared. It was so exhilarating the first time I understood how to work with what makes me unique and authentic, instead of trying to hide it away. And now I am on a mission to help others like me to break the mould.

Alright, so how do we strip away that anxiety for you?

We’re all guilty of hiding something about ourselves that we don’t like, but when we want to celebrate our uniqueness and authenticity we need to show it all to the light.

So, I invite you to answer the questions my teacher asked me:

  • What unique and authentic thing/s are you hiding?
  • Why are you hiding it/them?
  • What are you missing out on by hiding it/them?
  • How can you bring that uniqueness and authenticity out into the light?

And don't let this just be an academic exercise - actually take the action you need to take. If that means getting a voice teacher to help, go find one. If that means experimenting with new rep, go try it! If you want my help - get in touch and let's chat.

Remember, in order to celebrate your whole self, you need to embrace your whole self. And it is all worth celebrating!