If you ever work with Errol, you will learn that there is no such thing as “suggesting” to him. For instance, I “suggested” when we were writing the musical that since I am not a singer and don’t have a strong voice and am terrified of the prospect of singing alone, maybe it would be a good idea to write a song for my character that I could “talk-sing” my way through. It would be easier for everyone involved and would save myself and Errol a few freak-outs during recording. Errol said “Sure!” and proceeded to write “Cannot Edit”.
Then he sent me the demo, and that was when I fully realized that “suggesting” anything to Errol has about as much weight as a feather and that what I probably should have done was to write in big black letters on the wall “ERROL, I REALLY DON’T WANT TO SING ANYTHING THAT REQUIRES ACTUAL TALENT” and then shaken him by the shoulders while yelling it to let it sink in a little more. But instead, Errol wrote a fantastic sounding song, a song which he belted out with ease. I had no hope of doing it any justice.
I expressed this to Errol as best I could. I couldn’t sing that loudly, or that angrily, or hit some of those insane notes. My voice just wasn’t that strong. If I sang this, I would ruin the musical. People would listen and wince. They would hunt me down and pummel me with garbage for daring to make them listen to my screechy, cracky voice. Youtube would ban us. Surely we could have another character sing this. He responded with his usual unhelpful “You’ll be fine” and asked when I was available to record.
I practiced as best I could, the best being singing for about ten minutes before my brain got too scared and stopped my throat from making noise. It got better when I convinced myself that hey, it wasn’t like this was in a theatre, I wouldn’t have to sing THAT loudly. Of course I was still terrified, but at least I had a strategy. I walked into the recording that day with that one thought to comfort me.
Errol started the music, waiting patiently and texting while I started to sing hesitantly into the microphone, just the way I practiced. I finished the first take and one thing became painfully obvious: I was going to have to yell this song. This wasn’t a song to just be sung quietly to yourself. It was an angry, forceful song that needed to be shouted to the heavens…in tune. If I kept on singing the way I was, this song would definitely sink the musical.
So I took a deep breath, and sang as loudly and as angrily as I could, shakily at first as my brain wondered what on earth I thought I was doing being loud enough for actual humans to hear me, then slowly gaining confidence as it became apparent that no one was going to shun me for singing too loudly. We finished the recording, deemed it good enough for filming, and Errol said I could probably re-record it if I wanted to work on stuff. I agreed, but had no clue how to go about it.
I just got home from recording for the second time. This time around Errol actually had to turn down the mic levels because he hadn’t expected me to be quite as loud as I was. Amazingly, I did not hesitate or freak out at the sound of my own voice. I even tried to sing one line in a new way. I failed of course, but the very fact that I tried astounded me.
It’s weird, because I’m an actor. I’ve gotten acting voice coaching and am used to projecting in theatres to large crowds of people. But this is probably one of the only times that I’ve felt I’ve actually found my voice and dragged it out kicking and screaming into the world. I’ve got to say, it feels pretty epic….just don’t tell Errol that. The last thing he needs is to be right yet again.