“I used to get shy and was afraid to speak to the audience. I didn’t even have the courage to say which song I was about to sing.” Melissa James
Melissa James has cool music and a cool band, but she’s also human and while she gets better at handling pre-gig jitters, it never completely goes away. Why? Because a successful gig is not just about playing music that people like, it’s all about singing and performing your songs ‘consistently well’ at every venue and in different scenarios.
“I used to be afraid to even speak to the audience,” says Melissa. “It sounds weird I know considering I am a singer. I was always sure of my voice but talking to the crowd made me feel like I had a big spotlight on me and I couldn’t escape it.”
However, Melissa wasn’t going to be one of those singers that simply don’t perform well on stage due to anxiety. In the end, it's all about the music and whether Melissa sings for thousands of people every night or at a backyard barbeque, she had to overcome her mental anxieties to share her music with the world. The world deserves a good performance and so does Melissa, and boy can Melissa perform. When she performs, you're overwhelmed by her energy and you get the chills with her five octave range. She is exceptional!
“Before a gig I have always been anxious, uptight. I struggled with what to wear, how to do my makeup, my hair. It was an effort to get this all right but now I am a little more relaxed these days and wear what feels comfortable but sexy,” Melissa continues. “Now I feel empowered when I’m scheduled to do a gig and get excited because it’s an opportunity to play new songs live and allow the ‘introvert’ to transform into the ‘extrovert’.”
After years of being on stage, Melissa spends less time worrying about her performance anxiety and more time focussing on having fun rehearsing with her band a few days beforehand. While most of the rehearsal is spent focusing on getting the songs rhythmically tight and matching dynamic levels in various parts of the songs, it’s not just about “learning to play and sing the songs perfectly” together as a band. The band knows the drill; each member knows their place and what they need to do so rehearsal is more about getting in the zone and having fun before a gig.
This is crucial for Melissa and her band because they know that when they play live; their music is only 50% of what most people in their audience care about. The other 50% is what they see. So if they are not in the right headspace, their live shows will suffer from poor stage presence.
“I feel lucky to have good band members,” says Melissa. “We all want to perform live and feel pumped; we want to rehearse and want to get up there on stage and play strong. There is nothing more rewarding than doing a gig with people listening and dancing to your songs, and we love it.
To see Melissa and her band perform, click on the music video, ‘LIKE THIS LIKE THAT’