I have one simple thing to say to all of you who are privileged to be onstage and giving your gift to mankind!
Please be who you really are. The modern audience is a new animal and rarely able to be fooled by flash and excitement. Real is the new affectation of lyric and delivery. We are responsible for what we put out there. With that in mind, I always encourage my students to consider seriously making their work reflect who they honestly are inside. 20 years from now when loyal fans are paying for a trip down memory lane, the artist will be pleased and happy to sing or perform the song they put out there all those years before. Many of us don't even like the song we wrote last month much less 20 years from now.
There are some things that we as artist will never forget from our years of giving from the stage, but nothing compares to the letters and private encounters with fans. When your fans tell you how your work has changed their lives you begin to realize just how important your work really is and it has nothing to do with press or fame. You want these moments to be based on who you really are so that you don't have to fake your appreciation.
Be who you are!
As for me; regardless of the music I sing, I still have a heart for the things that feed my spirit. I am personally and intensely in love with all things Jesus. I used to worry that this would drive a wedge between me and the music industry proper, but one day I got a phone call from a lady who heard me sing "The Lord's Prayer" one evening at a secular performance. She explained that it had touched her even though it wasn't that kind of show. She was calling from the bedside of her dying father with the most profound request I have ever received.
Now, I have performed for everyone from Presidents and Royalty, to Mandela and Oprah, and though those moments were amazing, they do not compare to being asked to fulfill this woman's request. For the next thirty minutes I was asked to sing her dad to Sleep. With the family gathered around his bedside, and myself on the speaker phone in his hospital room, I sang his favorite hymns. There is no greater honor than to be asked to participate in something so profoundly private as the passing of a loved one. I can think of nothing that has ever touched me more. I did not know this man so you can imagine how awkward I would have felt had I not truly been a spiritually minded person. What if I had only been singing "The Lord's Prayer" for the show of it. I could never have been able to sincerely contribute to that incredible event. I did also sing at the funeral and met the family who had been in that room, days before. They were wonderful and asked me to feel like I was part of their family. They allowed me, appreciated me, and accepted me, because I was real...I was not awkward I was able to be just me.
I encourage you to always be real in all you do and your life will be a journey of amazing service and a blessing to others. Isn't that the truest definition of being an entertainer? We are servants.