Stage Fright – Adele projectile vomited at a gig!
In this article Tara Deane will be discussing stage fright, researching in to how and why stage fright affects musicians.
There have been many stars that have suffered a great deal with anxiety due to stardom. Barbra Streisand encountered severe performance anxiety and still suffers from this psychological state, after forgetting the words to her own song whilst performing at a concert in Central Park. The use of teleprompters helped her get back on stage after the incident, prompting Streisand as to what to say between songs and also allowing her to read her lyrics whilst she sings. The HuffingtonPost.com explained that Barbra Streisand “…stopped performing live for almost three decades out of fear she’d repeat the incident.” Streisand was traumatised by this experience as she felt the pressure from the thousands of people watching her and singing along to her songs. Brain World Magazine explains a reason for memory loss, “Stress and multitasking are among the chief causes of memory lapses.” The journalist goes on to explain that every aspect of our life can cause memory loss such as exhaustion, mal-nutrition and expectations, can all cause memory loss and it is extremely common to forget the most important of thoughts, on a day to day basis. Through Streisand forgetting her song lyrics, it does not make her a bad performer, but it does show that stardom and the pressures of performing to large crowds can take its toll on the star and cause psychological problems.
In an interview with the Rolling Stone Adele told the magazine how she suffers from extremely bad anxiety attacks. She described one incident saying, “I’m scared of audiences. I get shitty scared. One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile-vomited on someone.” This is a clear example of a musician who cannot cope with her stardom, occasionally.
Adele is very clever with maintaining herself as a star and her music as she does not attend many public appearances, take part in photo shoots or interviews. Adele still lives her ‘normal’ life as well as being the most successful musician of our generation. In her interview with the Rolling Stone, Adele goes on to say, “I mean, the thought of someone spending $20 to come and see me and saying ‘Oh, I prefer the record and she’s completely shattered the illusion’ really upsets me. It’s such a big deal that people come give me their time.” When people attend an Adele concert there is an expectation that the star will sound exactly like their album. A star is always under pressure from the expectations of their fans. This can cause a tremendous amount of stress. The star has to meet and exceed the expectations of their fans, or else they will be seen in a negative and critical light, both in the press and in their fandom.
Some stars have been turning to the art of massage in a bid to deal with the stress and anxieties of stardom. It is scientifically proven that massages help anxiety. According to Prevention.com, “…massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry.” Massages lower the levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. This hormone increases blood pressure, suppresses the immune system and also increases the blood sugar levels. A massage is also proven to increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are both neurotransmitters in the brain. Levels of serotonin control our mood and dopamine controls our focus. If the levels of dopamine are low our short term memory worsens, on the other hand if the levels of dopamine are high, according to Neurogistics.com, it is “…responsible for our drive or desire to get things done – or motivation.” One star who has taken to receiving a neck and back massages before every performance is Brian Wilson, who is the lead singer of the Beach Boys. Wilson suffers from anxieties before and during each performance. These massages calm him down and help the star get through the show.
Through researching into the topic of stage fright, it has been discovered that the only reason why Sonny and Cher were formed is due to crippling stage fright. After Sonny Bono wanted to sign Cher as a solo artist, she was so worried about getting lyrics wrong and going on stage alone that, according to Huffington Post “…the singer’s stage fright prompted her to ask Bono to join her onstage. She masked her anxieties by focusing on Bono during the performances and complementing her acts with witty banter.” Through the support Sonny gave Cher on stage, she blossomed into a confident solo artist and over come her stage fright.
Another very interesting piece of research is, if it was not for stage fright we would not have been blessed with the singing of Ella Fitzgerald. NPR.org states that at a talent contest at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, in regards to Fitzgerald’s performance, “Initially, she was going to dance, but a case of stage fright inspired her to sing, ‘Object of My Affection’.” Without stage fright she would not have been the most inspiring Jazz singer of her generation, with her voice still living on today.
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