Brandon’s adventures with trying out for The Voice have been interesting for me on so many levels.
First, why didn’t I support her dreams more as a parent when she was in her late teens? She could have gone to Chicago and gone for it. It wasn’t so much that I was worried that she didn’t have it. It was that so many people have it and never get there. That was clear from my years at the Boston Conservatory of Music. It was also that Brandon is so sharp; I knew she could make it at whatever business or academic endeavor to which she applied herself. So why risk failing at dreams when other success was a virtual guarantee?
Some of these feelings were reemphasized for me on Saturday. I’m sitting in an intimate concert watching Mindy Smith at the evening muse. She reminds me of what Brandon could be in 10 years, even looks a little like Brand, but not as good. When she sings she dives into the music, vanishing as Mindy Smith, becoming the song. What a performer. My phone vibrates with a text message. “I’m not going to call backs. They picked two 15 year-olds with coach bags.” Earlier she had texted that the line of auditioners went around the block. How do you get picked out of such a huge crowd? I’ll come back to this.
The previous night Brand had texted that her friend’s father had just spent an hour and a half deriding the chances of his daughter ever making it, tearing her down. I was appalled. Why do some parents do that. I texted back to Brand, “There will always be someone who sings better than I do. There will never be someone who sings like I do. There will always be someone who writes better songs than I do. There will never be someone who writes songs like I do. Your friend is unique. Go and sing and be yourself.” That helped her friend at least a little.
So more than a thousand people auditioning. You don’t stand out in a crowd, no matter how good. No, what is found is what the judges are looking for, what they hope will sell TV. Without a doubt a good size percentage of the people that didn’t get picked were better than the few that were. That didn’t matter, it wasn’t what they were looking for. I know that if Brandon surrounded herself with a couple of the right musicians, dove into the music the way she can, that she could be Mindy Smith. Or more appropriately, she could be Brandon Burns.
And can she do that? I don’t know. There is the perceived problem of having to fit the mold; if you are a girl and haven’t made it in the music biz by the time you are 30 you aren’t going to make it. That’s probably right. But it depends on how you define music biz. I have two bands. With one of them, I can’t keep a female singer. They all seem to think it is a game, lots of fun, until they have to get down to the work. Then they wander off. I would jump at the chance to have a performer like Brandon. No doubt she could form a band to really do lots of performing herself, build it around her. In this way she can choose to create her own definition of the music biz.
Back to the thousand plus auditioners. I wish that I had a way of telling them that not making the cut doesn’t mean much of anything. I wish there were a way to tell them to do what they want to do, pursue theirdreams. I truly, truly hope that they don’t take the not making it as meaning they don’t have talent.