Let the battles begin!By Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
My stomach hurts.
Just to let you all know, five more “blind auditions” for “The Voice of the Philippines” are to be aired. Our teams—mine and those of my comentors Bamboo, Sarah Geronimo and apl.de.ap—are almost fully formed now; just a few slots are left.
There are too many names from the other teams to mention here, so allow me to focus on whom I have thus far, in no particular order: Chien Berbana, Darryl Shy, Radha, Diday Garcellano, Juvie Pelos, Mitoy Yonting and Tau Muhammad.
This week, all the coaches and artists are preparing for the next stage of the competition: the “battles.” Each coach divides the team into six pairs. The battle is now one-on-one, head-to-head. At the end of the round, the coach will pick which members of his/her own team will stay or go.
That’s why I’m feeling this way. It will be an incredibly difficult week for the coaches. Saying goodbye will be a gut-wrenching exercise.
For sure, coaching my team won’t be all about vocal technique (though there will definitely be some of that). There is always that thing called “mental toughness,” something many professional performers have in spades, especially those who have nurtured careers spanning more than 20 years … mental toughness that has weathered the threats of scandal, demands of the marketplace and the reality of just getting older.
Proverbially, mental toughness separates the men from the boys. The “battles” phase is one high-pressure situation, in an already high-pressure environment. One, you are literally placed in a boxing ring to duke it out with another competitor. Two, you have to deal with being surrounded on three sides by the audience. Three, behind you is the band playing your song, a band with a very long musical resumé, having worked with many of our country’s best singers. Four, your coach is right in front of you, with the other three coaches.
Are you going to thrive in this environment or are you going to cave in? Will your desire to find your biological father, or those outstanding financial debts, or that school-aged son that you haven’t met jam your mind? Or will it be just about the next two and a half minutes under the lights, on that stage, microphone in hand, with that song?
Allow me to explain how mental toughness should work in the case of an artist who, I hope, has developed it to the point of genius, because she needs it now more than anyone else does: Charice.
Yes, I’ve written about Charice, but because of what she is going through, I’m writing about her again. Before I continue, allow me this disclaimer: This is my own opinion, and may not reflect the views of the Inquirer.
Because of her coming out, Charice is, understandably, a person of interest in the talk-show circuit. It seems that everyone wants to know every tidbit there is to find out about her. That is all fine and good as long as it doesn’t head into tabloid territory, out of respect for this incredibly talented young woman and everything she has achieved on the country’s behalf thus far.
Her mental toughness at this stage has little to do with singing and everything to do with fielding invasive, embarrassing questions from certain members of the television media.
Why I walk away
There is a lot of TV shows that I flat-out refuse to watch; any time that I feel anyone from my business (especially the music side of it) is about to be skewered within view of millions of people, I walk away from the TV. To start with, I know that I’m going to bump into these colleagues in a recording studio, or in a dressing room before a TV guesting, or backstage at a concert. There are details about their lives that I would rather not know. I’d like to always be able to look into their eyes without that feeling of having had their private business forced down my throat. To respect their privacy, and their dignity, I change the channel or turn the darn thing off altogether.
The only thing important to me is the art … the music … the camaraderie … and the beautiful noise we’re about to make. Can’t it just be about that? These are artists, people who deserve the pedestals that their fans place them on.
An artist like Charice makes this country look great through her monstrous, ridiculous, outsized talent. The rest of the world beyond our shores appreciates her for that voice—full-bodied and textured, and laser-beam accurate. If she must tell the world her whole story, I’d rather hear it sung. I’d rather we all said “Thank you” for all she had done and would still be doing, and let it be the end of that. I’m sure we can all accord her some respect.
For Charice, as well as the members of my team on “The Voice”: Truth be told, the battles never stop. Only the opponent’s face changes, and it won’t always be a fellow artist. At times it will be an interviewer … an anonymous netizen … or just another so-called human being who will be only too happy to take you down a peg or two.
Don’t let any one of them win. Ever.
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