Ugh. You want me to define this. This is the answer I dread giving at dinner parties. This information is almost always followed by one of a series of questions that then lead to a myriad of the same questions. It’s like being stuck on a desert island with one copy of a well-worn choose your own adventure book.
The first step is to lump singer and musician together before someone can get a question in. Because otherwise the first question when you tell people you sing is generally whether you just sing, or whether you play an instrument as well.
So once it’s established that I mostly sing, but I also play a few different instruments, the questions usually go like this.
Do you play in a band? There are a bunch of different bands and musical collaborations in which I play a bunch of different roles. Sometimes this is ongoing, and the same band will pop up regularly. Other are short term projects or collaborations. My career is as a freelance artist.
What kind of music do you play? This is hard to do in a polite amount of time without sounding vague and purposeless. I play different kinds of music in different contexts. Mostly, the internet says that I am a jazz and blues singer, and my calendar for the last decade would largely agree. But I have also been singing folk and classical and theatre music since I was a child, and I write my own music, and do arranging for a lot of different artists, so I have to be able to do a little bit of everything. I also do a lot of teaching and a lot of community work, and end up learning a lot different music from the people I meet.
Do you play any instruments.
This depends: Are you?
a) A person who is genuinely wondering if I play or teach a particular instrument?
b) A person who is also an instrumental musician and noticed I lead with singer?
Do you only play for a living or do you something else?
Can we just acknowledge that this is a wierd question that most people don’t have to answer. If someone tells you they’re a “professor and academic” or a “construction contractor” or a “retail consultant”, it’s very rarely followed up by a request that they provide a line-by line explanation of their finances. And at this point, I’m never really sure what people are asking exactly, but it’s amazing how often I’m asked this question. Luckily, this is part of a larger bio which aims to explain all that for me. I can just link you back there.