Like most humans, I never pass up the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness. I also think spending time with legends can offer life-altering, peak experiences for children – so when we had the opportunity to invite the incredible Usha Uthup to do a masterclass with us at SaPa, we jumped at it.
While listening to her share her half-a-century of performing experience with us, I realised her tips on stagecraft can be directly applied to life. Here are some of my favourites:
- Be Yourself – Be unashamedly, unabashedly, unequivocally yourself, because what’s the point in being someone else? And when you hear this from the OG sari-wearing, English - language-singing diva, you know it’s true.
- Be honest – On so many levels, it’s important to be honest. Start with being honest to yourself. Be honest to your audience. It’s also a good practice to be honest to the world around you!
- Give it your all, every single time – When you’re on stage, every time is as important as the first time, so give it your best.
- Know your audience – Think about the people you’re performing for. What would make them happy? How do you create the best possible experience?
- When in doubt, opt out – This one felt really catchy but it took me a second to understand it. Don’t unnecessarily put yourself in situations where you know only bad things can happen. Whether it’s starting a song at the wrong place or taking a decision you’re going to regret, just don’t do it. Know your limitations.
- Know what you’re good at – It’s good to know your weaknesses and limitations – but it’s always great to know what your superpowers are. Play to your strengths.
- The singer is never bigger than the song – You’re one piece of the puzzle. The audience, the musicians, the songs – all of these are important. If you’re an artist, it’s your audience that lifts you up, so never look down on them.
- Everybody feels fear – Next time you’re nervous, just remember that even legends who’ve been on stage for 51 years still feel jittery sometimes. You’ll get over it.
- If something doesn’t work, be open to change – Plan B never hurt anyone. (My Plan B, in case you’re wondering, is living off my doctor brother.
- Be open to try new things – If Usha ji can bring nightclub charm to stadiums and now Zoom, we should all be open.
In the last year, I feel like we’ve spent a lot of time trying new things – from baking our own bread to starting home hydroponics. So keep an open mind and see if you can use these lessons to tackle whatever else comes your way!