Friday, May 18, 2007

Sudiegirl is not the "It Girl"...

First of all, a quote from Morris Day and the Time's song "The Bird"...

Hold on now,
this dance ain't for everybody, just the sexy people...

I think this applies, and you'll see it too as you read this entry.

Sexiness a must for today's lady singers...this is the headline for the article I've linked to today. In this enlightened age, can this concept of beauty over talent really exist?

Sadly, yes.

I don't like it.

OK...let me share a few stories from my youth. I'm sure I've told them before, but I'll tell them again because it's my blog, my rules, and...yeah.

Anyway...I was a senior in high school during this first incident. My gym class (led by Coach Tremmel, the boys' basketball coach) was riding back to school from the local golf course on a bright fall afternoon.

I'm not even sure how the subject came up, but my name was invoked when Coach made the following statement: "Well, hell...all Dawson has to do is sing to a man and he'll do whatever he wants."

I was slightly dumbfounded. I managed to shoot back, "If that's the case, Coach, what the hell am I still doing in high school?"

This weird juxtaposition of voice vs. body is something I've always had to fight against. In 10th grade, I was in "Bye Bye Birdie" (a high school/community theater production) and I tried out for the part of Kim McAfee. Yes, I had the thick glasses and was slightly plump...couldn't necessarily dance all that well...but I had a prettyish face when my contact lenses were in so MAYBE I could pull it off...?

Oh hell no. A pretty senior girl got the part of Kim McAfee, and I was relegated to comic relief by winning the part of a sixty-five year old woman over a forty-year old woman when I was 15. Yep...spent "sweet 16" in a cheap fur coat in the backstage area of my community theater stage.

The same thing happened with our high school musical "Cinderella" just two years later...I did protest a little bit and stated that if I was cast as the evil stepmother I would quit and play triangle in the pit orchestra, so I was at least the fairy godmother. Still, it was a far cry between ME as fairy godmother and Whitney Houston being fairy godmother. I looked more like Thelma Lou from "Andy Griffith". Great. Looking like Barney Fife's sex toy was not a goal of mine. Never never.

Yes, it's not fair. Here are the first two paragraphs from the story I've linked to:

She was an "amazing talent," a young singer with a wonderful voice who wrote beautiful songs. But she was no beauty, plus flat-chested and overweight to boot.

Remembering the aspiring star, music executive Jody Gerson still feels terrible about thinking: "She's never going to get signed, even though she's fabulous."'s sad indeed.

The logical side of me says, "Well, she can still get work of some kind, can't she? Can't she be a backup singer, or work in commercials or voice overs?" Those are certainly viable options...options that should definitely be in the picture, especially when the work can be steadier from those ideas than trying to be the next Mariah or Britney.

But the side of me that loves applause is the side that aches. I've heard all the cliches about singing..."When you sing, you pray twice," and all that. When you're just as good or better than someone who LOOKS better than you, but THEY are the ones that get their dreams realized, it hurts. The movie "Dreamgirls" has it right on the money - Effie's got the voice, but Deena's body and face are used as the hook instead. Who says that's fair? Who says we should have to settle? I sure don't, and believe me, I've HAD to.

I guess by this time I've resigned myself to this sour fact of life. That's why I think what I do now - jazz - is a perfect fit. Look at some of the jazz singers, past and present. For every Doris Day who's petite, there's someone like Ella Fitzgerald, who's not. For every Diana Krall, there's a Diane Schuur. The sensibilities are a little different in jazz, with the "look" of the vocalist being balanced with the "sound" of the vocalist.

Do yourself a on the link to reach this referenced article and ask yourself this: Have we REALLY come a long way, baby?

I'm not so sure. However, at least my people skills are such that I don't cringe in fear when senior citizen men want to dance with me and they only come up to my chest.

At least I have a place to rest my drink.