When making or performing music does being authentic matter?
Bob Dylan. James Brown. Taylor Swift. Ray Charles. Childish Gambino. Jim Morrison. Ed Sheeran. Elvis Presley. Kanye West. Beyoncé. Iggy Pop. Chief Keef. Mick Jagger. 2 Chainz. Michael Jackson. Janis Joplin. Freddie Mercury. Rae Sremmurd. Johnny Cash. Nicki Minaj.
Though it’s difficult to compare any of these artists, what is it that they all have in common?
Let us not discuss which of these artists make “good” or “bad” music because that is subjective and ultimately decided by the listener; but lets discuss them concerning authenticity.
Each and every one of these artists are undeniably successful; but why?
One thing that they all share is the widely underestimated ability to have confidence in performing as themselves. Set the music aside for a moment. Just analyze the humans who made it.
They aren’t faking anything on that stage. They’re outrageously comfortable with how they sing, how they move, how they look into the eyes of their audience.
Do you think that Mick Jagger for one second takes any time to think what people might be thinking, good or bad, about his dance moves?
Do you think James Brown ever thinks he’s screaming past the point of musicality?
Do you think Taylor Swift ever questions the depth of her lyrics?
The answer is: of course not. They do what comes natural to them.
A major part of their performance success is that they do not question themselves. Ever.
Each of the artists from the list has a personality they are unashamed of in every way. Their music, whether “good” or “bad”, depicts their own personalities with accuracy, urgency, and reality. No one can argue that. What they create represents who they really are in their hearts.
To achieve authenticity as a musician is to first establish what YOU naturally love doing, hearing, playing, and singing. Then it is to build up a comfortability to act on your subconscious urges that call for certain musical actions to be taken that you might or might not feel embarrassed about taking.
If Lonnie Donegan couldn’t risk criticism by throwing his head back and wailing in all abandonment on British television, would we ever be blessed with the Beatles today?
To parallel this: if you couldn’t free yourself of your musical inhibitions, could your audience ever appreciate the depth and passion of your music?
In the end, be yourself, be proud, and be bold. All your favorite artists do that, so why not you?