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The Voice Within

Now Sally Sampson isn't usually the shy type, but a few scarring memories have left her with stage fright, every time she tries to sing. Will you join her as she faces her fears?

I open my mouth and nothing happens. I look down and I see a puddle. I’m not sure if it’s sweat or urine…maybe it’s a combination of both, but my eyes don’t linger there for too long. “Maybe no one will notice,” I nervously think to myself. I look back up and past the bright lights compromising my vision and threatening to blind me altogether; I see a sea of eyes ogling me. Just to be clear, when I say ogle, I mean looking at me the way prisoners in jail eye a new inmate they know they are going to be stabbing in the showers later

And to make matters worse, not only do they ogle, they have X-Ray vision! X-ray fucking vision coupled with psychic powers and I can’t help but nervously try to cover myself up as I realise that I’m supposed to perform to a crowd of mutants. I’m literally supposed to impress a bunch of X-Men who could kill me in less than three paces.

Later on, when the paramedics arrive to remove what’s left of my mangled carcass off the stage, they interview different members of the audience, in an attempt to fully understand what the contributing factors behind me exploding into a ball of flames were.

“We don’t know what happened. The poor dear must not have been cut out for this…performing really isn’t for everyone after all. It’s going to take me a lot of time to get the stench of smoke out of my hair and clothes! I’m going to be running up quite a bill at the dry-cleaners I imagine!”

“This is fucking shit! I bought a ticket to see a performance and instead I got to see some weirdo croak on stage??!!!This isn’t Hogwarts, BITCH!  I WANT MY MONEY BACK!”

“I could see through her outfit before she died…I thought that was pretty cool! But all in all, it was a disaster,” Professor X says as he rolls away on his wheelchair, shaking his head.

Yeah, that’s one, JUST ONE, of many different scenarios that have played out in my head, time and time again. And it’s not even the worst one…

There are multiple other settings which involve me vomiting, getting the shits on stage, being bitch-slapped by Steven Tyler, turning into a llama (don’t ask why…), having to perform while my mother walks around telling everyone how she tried to persuade me not to become a performer and my favourite of them all, Simon Cowell, along with a panel of highly esteemed judges, running out of words and deciding to moon me instead.

So yeah, for everyone who’s ever asked me what it feels like to be on stage, now you know! It’s not ‘stage-fright’ that I experience…it’s absolute and total ‘stage MIND FUCK’!

To be honest, I’m usually okay once I get on the stage…but it’s the runner-up to actually going out there and doing my thing that can usually make me want to curl up in foetal position, rock myself backwards and forward, and suck on my thumb like an unweaned infant.

My nerves weren’t always this bad though. Back in the day, I used to be quite oblivious and I was really happy just having a platform to muck about on. I never used to worry about silly things like what other people thought about me. I just had fun and hoped for the best! But, as we all know, the older we get, the louder those voices of doubt can become and if we’re not careful, we can hand over our whole lives to them, waste away and never ever do anything of note.

Now I’ve built up quite a reputation for myself in terms of not giving a shit, and you may notice that the ultimate stage mindfuck you just got a glimpse of, is truly inconsistent with the very philosophy that I have become the poster-child of…and you would be right.

But I’m sure by now, you also know that I’m not one to leave things there. 

When I first fell in love with performing, it was through music. Singing, to be specific. At the age of eight or nine, I would spend hours and hours going through my father’s cassette tape collection listening to everything ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to Donna Summer, Abba, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. It was at ten years old though that I clocked that I could actually be a singer and at the peak of the dominion of the Spice Girls over the world (and over my mind), I determined that I was going to follow in their footsteps. Over the next three years, you couldn’t get me to shut the fuck up. I would sing all the time and everywhere!  Frankly, I’m pretty sure it was God’s grace that saved me from my mother slitting my throat as I slept in an attempt to sever my vocal chords.

And I don’t blame her though, seeing as Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On was a particular favourite of mine at the time! If that’s not the ultimate suicide song, I don’t know what is. I sang that song at family get-togethers, in the car on trips, at school with my friends, in the supermarket and once in the hotel lobby of the Sheraton hotel (I can no longer sing it, however, without irritating everyone around me and fearing for my life for what they might do to me as a result).

Then something happened.

Not one thing perhaps, but a series of things.  A series of negative comments, a string of remarks all designed around the notion that I wasn’t good enough, started to get tossed at me.

“You don’t have the voice…”

“Singing is a competitive business and most people fail when trying to make it!”

“Music is a nice hobby…but not a career!”

“Would you please just BE QUIET!!??  Who the fuck made you out to be Whitney Houston!”

And somewhere along the way, and against every fibre of my being, I believed them. I stopped believing in my ability as a singer. I later found and fell in love with acting and I focused my attentions stubbornly on that, blatantly refusing to listen to any more of the nasty, negative things people had to say, but I grew to fear singing on stage.

I never ever stopped singing altogether though. I still sang at home, in choirs (where I knew I could hide behind the voices of others), in the shower etc.  but I started to grow morbidly afraid of singing solo in front of people. And I still suffer waves of it to this very day, which is why I’m adopting quite a serious tone regarding this.

Looking back, I loathe the fact that I let anyone talk me out of doing and going for what I loved. Being so defiant and focused and so insistent that I don’t give a shit about the mind-numbing, limited, boxed thinking of others…I guess I’m disappointed  to discover that I actually still do kinda give a shit.

But not for much longer, because in true BITCH style, I’m going to be facing my fears.  

And I would like to invite you to be a part of me doing so, because on Thursday 5th December at 8pm in Bikya Maadi (oh yes!) I’m going to be having my very first, very own solo concert. Just thinking about it gives me the sweats, but I think it’ll be good. It’s been far too long and I don’t know what’s going to happen. All I know is that I’m tired of being scared for no apparent fucking reason.

As Seán O'Casey once said: “All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” 

Truth is, most of us don’t know what the we’re doing in life anyway, so I might as well not know what the fuck I’m doing by stepping on the stage! FUCK IT!

I can’t promise you I won’t die on stage, but I promise I won’t kill you by attempting to sing My Heart Will Go On. And on your end, feel free to come along and bring all of your X-Men friends.  

Looking forward to seeing you there! 


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