I have been a part of “the music world” for nearly three decades, first as a student, then a professional pianist, and now as a singer, songwriter, and leader of a jazz group. In all of those years, I’ve seen this strange thing happening again and again. There’s this Standard, this idea that the industry (and society) has about what talent sounds like. Musicians are expected to be either technically flawless, or they are produced, filtered, and edited until their sound fits into a box someone has decided is acceptable. Until it sounds just like everyone else. Artistry is meant to be a vehicle for personal expression, but the industry and academia have turned the act of finding our authentic voice into a measuring stick for comparing ourselves, and our art, to others. I wrote the song The Standard, which is about standing up for our authentic voice. We are best when we embrace our authentic selves and allow ourselves to be seen, even with all of our imperfections. This is one of the hardest things for me to internalize personally. I am a perfectionist and I want people to think I'm perfect. I do, but its not possible. So I must continue to find ways to embrace myself as I am. Embrace my foibles, and love myself not despite them- but for them. If we can do this for ourselves, we will be able to help other be released of expectations that no longer serve us. My hope is that we can all embrace who we actually are, to let our raw and vulnerable voice be heard and honored for the natural beauty that it is. We are not all meant to sound the same or look the same, so let's stop trying.
Here's an unedited version of The Standard:)