Surround Yourself With Positive People
Nancy Redd has been a social worker for more than 20 years, but knew at the age of three that she wanted to be a musician. My family has always encouraged my music, but told me I couldn’t major in it at college because I needed to have stability and a “career.”
Her grandfather sang in church and and Nancy used to sit on his knee and sing along with him.
She now performs authentic jazz, pop standards, rock and some neo-soul concerts in restaurants, at public and private events and is looking forward to singing overseas.
What made you finally realize your dream?
Music has always been part of my life. Growing up and through the college years, I studied voice and flute. Throughout my late teens until my late twenties I performed locally in night clubs and for community, private, and corporate events. However like many women after starting a family, I put my dreams on hold. I still performed once in a while, but my focus was on raising my son.
When he entered into adolescence, I began to sing again at his urging. He has always encouraged me as I have encouraged him to explore and live his passion. He said to me one day, ‘Mom you should start singing all the time. I don’t need you to take care of me as much as I did. I’ll be fine.’ My son’s permission helped me to pursue my dream again. I could only do this knowing that he supported me and that I was not neglecting him in any way. He has always been my rock and biggest fan!
What were the specific obstacles that you faced?
Starting over as a musician was a challenge because I needed to hone up on my skills. Performing is a work in progress and I had over a ten year hiatus! I had sung occasionally at a few weddings and outdoor festivals here and there, but nothing like I had done prior to when I was performing before my son was born. In addition to honing my craft, I was older in a business that celebrates youth. My challenge was to be able to get in shape physically to be healthy to meet the demands that performing requires. Performing is very physical. Singing one or two songs is nothing, however performing and carrying a three-hour performance takes stamina! So I began really working out and eating better – nothing dramatic, but just generally becoming more in tune with my mind, body, and spirit. These things are required in order to be a great performer and to be present with the audience.
The next obstacle I faced was learning how to be a business woman (I am still working on this). I wanted to be in control of the songs that I performed, so I decided that I would form my own band. Little did I know the responsibilities it involved. I am responsible for marketing, booking, hiring and firing, paying the musicians, and everything that goes into creating and marketing my brand. I have had many doors shut in my face. Initially I just wanted to make my own music selections. I had no idea that I would be in so deep!
What helped you get through them?
I was supported by my parents and my son. My dad is also a musician. He encouraged me to be a leader. He let me sink or swim on my own with support if I need him, but I am basically on my own as a business woman. Musicians that I have worked with have also encouraged me to play my flute and sing every chance I could. They invited me to attend Open Mikes. Some of the pianists that I worked with actually sat down and tutored me. They always encouraged and believed in me. Their respect as a musician helped me to continue with my dream. As much as I absolutely love the audience, the respect of the musicians is priceless to me. They are the musical wind beneath my musical wings!
There have also been the select few venues who actually gave me a chance when others would not give me the time of day. I am so grateful to them for the opportunities that they gave me, but also that they treated me like a human being in a business where people can be rude and at best, ambivalent. The people/venues that have hired me taught me to persevere and not to allow those who choose not to hire, discourage me. If they are rude to me, it’s more about them and has nothing to do with my ability or me personally. I may have people/venues saying no to me, but the ones who say yes are the ones I focus on. They remind me that there are people who do appreciate my craft and are willing to take a chance. I also feel very proud that me and my band have enhanced the business and are in high demand at the venues where we perform.
Were there people who tried to discourage you, who were they and what did they say to you?
WE AREN’T HIRING RIGHT NOW! Venues have then gone on to hire other acts without giving me a chance. They never even accepted my information to know if I was a good fit for their venue. I was told to come back over and over again with no response. Some of it was just the rudeness of the person in charge on a particular day. Other times I found out through other musicians that certain persons/venues were not easy to work with. Sometimes I was just simply ignored like the paint on the wall. Talk about perseverance…
How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?
Performing has, and continues to be, a wonderful experience. I am so grateful to have my Dad perform with me. The musicians that I have worked with have been an inspiration as well. I am still doing my best to accomplish more and more each day. I do so now with determination and confidence in myself as a performer, and business woman.
What advice would you give to others that are contemplating finally living their dreams?
I tell anyone that it is never too late to pursue your dreams. Don’t let anyone dissuade you. Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up and support you. Don’t wait till tomorrow. It is here now! Take incremental steps if life circumstances don’t permit you to fully pursue your dreams. Do not give up! Ask for help. Yes… you can do it! Live it!
To listen to Nancy and view her videos, click here.