Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stage Fright, Success and Struggles: Halifax's Meaghan Smith

Meaghan Smith is a Canadian singer song writer who hails from Halifax, NS. She has toured with the likes of Ron Sexsmith, Chantal Kreviazuk, and k.d. Lang. She has had songs play on TV shows such as One Tree Hill and Grey's Anatomy and has recorded a cover of a Pixies song for (500) Days of Summer. And now Smith is heading off on a tour of her own where some other unknown-ish person will be opening for her. Her name is not exactly in lights yet, but with her enchanting musical style I can't see why that wouldn't one day be the case.

So how did she get here? It is not the terrible "I lived in my car to support the music and at times didn't eat" story nor is it the "I was discovered on youtube by Usher and now I am an international sensation" story either. It is a mixture of enduring times and a lucky moment that some may call fate.

Meaghan started off her singing career with a giant bout of stage fright. A woman who now sings in front of audiences as large as 80,000 people used to have a panic attack at the thought of performing in front of anyone. After Googling stage fright she came across a singer who gave the advice that if you wanted to get over this fear you needed to go through it. Yeah, pretty standard. Meaghan took that advice and made her own "I am going to suck until I don't suck anymore. It took me 2 years of sucking hard..." said Meaghan

So there was her "hard time"...I am sure there were others, but stage fright...for a performer...kind of huge.

The "lucky moment that some may call fate" happened at the Halifax Film Festival. Meaghan just finished recording an album that she planned on selling around Halifax..."I was thinking that I would sell 100 records and that would be great." said Meaghan. She got to attend a one on one session with some delegates from LA at the festival as a local musician who had a song in the featured. Being the very charming girl that she is she became friends with these people and offered to show them around Halifax. After spending the day with them she asked them to take a listen to her record and give her some pointers. They didn't give her pointers...they set up a show case for her in LA and record labels started giving her offers.

"I hadn't expected anything like that to happen. I had to hustle and get a manager, a booking agent and a lawyer and then I was ready to accept an offer...and I signed with Warner. And that's my story...it all happened from the Halifax Film Festival, which is crazy when you think about it." states Meaghan.

So what was it about Meaghan's music that got all those LA people in a tizzy? Some people may call it throw-back music to the 40's but Meaghan would beg to differ.

"I'm not setting out to do throw-back music. I would never assume to try to recreate something that has been done so perfectly by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Jordan and Billy Holiday...they did it perfectly. I'm gonna leave that to the pros, but I love that music....I took the stuff that I loved about it and infused it with more modern elements."

So it isn't throw-back...it's 40's with a twist. I don't mind it and I don't think that it reeks of Ella and Billy either. I think she has done a successful job of putting her own stamp on a flavour of music that may be decade specific...and she even stayed off the crack pipe! *cough* Amy Winehouse *cough*

For someone that has come to a level of success that she wasn't originally shooting for, it is safe to say that there are some challenges. She didn't have the years of sitting in a van at 3 am thinking..."Should I rob that grocery store for food?" And "I really hope that one day I take Britney Spears' spot on the billboard count down." The girl didn't even have a manager...there were no big plans. I am not trying to make it sound like her getting the chance of a lifetime is a BAD thing per-say, buuuut if she was aiming for it she may have had a little more preparation time.

With this in mind I asked Meaghan what her three greatest struggles were with being a musician.

Struggle number 1: "self doubt." The years of living on tossed out McDicks and a buskers wage may have given her a little more of a pump up...maybe, I am sure that she wouldn't want to find out. She wonders what would happen if it didn't work out...it looks like it is working out just fine.

(Side note: I am sure it will Meaghan, but if it doesn't work out I hire bands to play at theatre openings if you are interested.)

Struggle number 2: "inspiration" from lack of real life time (due to touring). Um, well I could come to your concerts and cause drama if you like. We could get it going like a gangsta rap concert and someone could shank a groupie. Not your style? I don't know what to say. Watch Armageddon...it always inspires me. End of the earth, space, Bruce Willis...you know, the usual.

Struggle number 3: the lack of "time to do nothing." I feel ya, that is my favorite part of my life...doing nothing. Being the self proclaimed "laziest person I know" this would not sit well with me. Hopefully you can overcome this mountain.

Struggles, successes and stage fright. There you have my little piece of Meaghan Smith knowledge. She is a pretty solid broad with a bright future ahead of her...not to mention that her guilty pleasure is Christina Aguilera. I told her that if she would have said Baby Biebs we may have had an issue, but Christina is legit so you have passed the test (plus she likes Glee...A+).

Meaghan will be playing in Calgary on May 14 at the Grace Presbyterian Church. Tickets can be purchased on Ticketmaster.


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