LET ME UPGRADE YOU
by Bridgette Cooper
Let me upgrade you…..Love that Beyonce song! Here we are January 2012. I would like to start by asking this one question. Since last year at this time, what have you done to UPGRADE you? It could be your love life, health, personal relationships or dare I ask……..your career as a singer. For the sake of being verbose I’ll choose “career” to focus on for this article. With that in mind, I’ll ask you once again, what have you done to upgrade your career since last year at this time? As I reflect on a particular goal I set for career last December for 2011, I am proud to say that I met that goal and went beyond.
After going through a crappy divorce and finding myself a single parent. I was not sure which way to go with my career. I was really stumped. I sat and made a list of things I knew that had to be done in order continue to thrive in my music career. What I realized is that I had an entire network of friends who I could go to and ask for advice. As professional musicians, we often feel the need to have to ALWAYS know what we are doing and how we are going to do. Sometimes life throws all sorts of craziness at us which in turns throws us for a loop and leaves us scratching our heads.
The first thing to upgrading you, as a performing artist, is have a heart to heart talk with yourself. Really look at your flaws. Ask yourself are you where you want to be in your career. If not then write down things that you think are hindering your progress. Here is where you must be brutally honest with yourself. Write down every single character flaw you have. Remember it is for your eyes only. With those flaws in mind, work on them one by one and start doing things that will help correct them. Keep in mind it takes 30 days to break a bad habit and thirty days to make a new habit. Set a goal for yourself.
Secondly, remember your friends are there to help you. Many times I have scheduled a “business meeting” with my friends to discuss the business at hand….ME. Before I schedule our “business meeting” I write down specific questions about what I would like to do and what THEY think is the best way to get there. When it comes down to it, your true friends know you better than anyone. Your TRUE friends will be the ones to call a spade a spade and give you the honest truth when you ask for it…..along with encouragement. Together, you can take the constructive criticism and turn it into a workable game plan. Keep in mind the friends that you seek out for professional advice should be a professional themselves with some working knowledge about the business.
Lastly, make technology your (for lack of a better word) slave. The Internet is often free and if you do not have immediate access of a computer, you can always make a visit to your local library. Use all of the social media tools that you can get your hands on and start a blog. Many web sites offer free hosting and design. Just a few years ago we used to send much of our press information via “snail mail”. Now it is just a click away. Put together a professional looking EPK (electronic press kit) to send to your contacts and for goodness sake PLEASE do not pay anyone hundreds of dollars to do what you can do yourself. If time is a factor than maybe. However me being the control freak that I am, I end up doing it myself anyway.
We have chosen a path (the performing arts) that requires our time, effort and attention. Money will always be a factor. After my divorce, there were many times I was not sure how I was going to afford to make ends meet between singing jobs. I did the unthinkable…..I ditched my cable. I was able to save a little over $1,000.00 dollars by the end of the year that I was able to reinvest into head shots and audition transportation. Being a performing artist is an investment…..always keep in mind that you want a “return” on your investment and to always spend at least 10 minutes out of the day to UPGRADE YOU!
Award winning mezzo soprano, Bridgette Cooper was named one of the “Voices of the New Millennium” making her Carnegie Hall debut in the Weill Recital Hall. Most recently, Ms. Cooper was presented in recital to rave reviews at the historic Star Spangled Banner Museum, The Green and Gorgeous Event benefiting the American Heart Association and the 2011 Caribbean American Heritage Awards, which was televised throughout New York, Florida and the Caribbean. She was included as Outstanding Alumni of East Carolina University School of Music of summer2010 and nominated for Outstanding Alumni of 2011. Her debut CD Heavenly Grass: Great American Art Songs remained on The Music Arts Center Top 10 Chart for over five weeks. Bridgette’s guest soloist engagements also include singing for The People’s Inaugural Luncheon Honoring First Lady Michelle Obama and the Independence Day Celebration of the Bahamas hosted by Ambassador of the Bahamas, His Excellency Joshua Sears, which celebrates her Bahamian heritage. Her operatic and recital performances have led to several outstanding reviews in throughout Europe, the United States. Ms. Cooper is the recipient of several awards including the Paul Robeson National Vocal Competition, Marjorie Lawrence International Vocal Competition, Bel Canto Competition of Chicago, the YWCA Studio Club Competition, International Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women, and Ms. American Achievement of District of Columbia and the National Association of Teachers of Singing state and Regional Finalist. She is also contributing columnist for Smooth Jazz Beach Radio and Operagasm.com. Bridgette received her Bachelor of Music in Opera Performance from East Carolina University where she was awarded outstanding College students of America and then went on to study at the prestigious American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Her CD is available on Amazon.com, Best Buy, Walden Books, and all digital distribution outlets.