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Performs on stage at the Country Music Awards

by Steven Brown

With years of experience performing and judging at Country Music Awards around New Zealand, I’m here to share some of my common tips and mistakes people make when competing in the hopes that I can help you. To enjoy prizes and maybe even win. You have hunted.

Introducing your song – speak SLOWLY.

So many people run onto the stage and exclaim their introduction as if it were a race – uh – you are judged from the moment you step on stage, so practice on your introduction in front of a mirror. Try to take a deep breath on stage before introducing yourself. Keep your head up and make sure that if you are wearing a hat, it is put back on your head and not too far forward so that everyone can see your face under the lights. One positive thing about the lighting is that you will probably only be able to see the first few rows of the audience – do not look at them – focus at the back of the auditorium. Remember diction – speak clearly. Do not come out with corny cliché lines when presenting yourself – listen to how the “winners” present themselves.

Grooming – how you look matters.

 At my first awards ceremony, I thought “auditioning” meant showing up, singing your 강남풀싸롱, going home and waiting to be called back – just like with acting auditions. So I showed up in pink leggings and a T-shirt. Oh my god – I was ever embarrassed because everyone else was in “costume”. You do not have to go over the top with cowboy boots, hats, spurs, etc. (except maybe the traditional sections). These days in the open wards, evening dresses for the girls and just a pair of black pants for the boys and a WHITE (not gray of wash with something black) shirt are as effective as full on country dress. Much of the time is less good. Girls – there’s nothing wrong with a little modesty – judges do not want to see butts and tits on stage – they want to see you

. Make sure your shoes are clean and do something with your hair

 – Even a ponytail looks better than a stiff hair that blocks your face. Do not be afraid to use some glitter hair spray – not too much – but it will help make your mane shine on stage. Jewelry is also important, so do not be afraid to use some. Make-up ladies – do not be afraid to use some. On stage, your face gets lost under a hat and candles. Put your makeup a little heavier – you may think you look a bit of a fool, but under the lights and with people far back in the auditorium we have to see your face.

What to do on stage – depends on the song.

 MANY people make the mistake of thinking that they have to use the whole stage to look good to the judges. WRONG – again see what the winners do – sometimes (especially with a ballad) they can just stay in one place with their guitar or move around a bit. No one wants to feel like they are watching a tennis match as you march back and forth across the stage. Sing for your audience – don’t just focus on the front row that you can see. People love to be involved, so keep your head up and pretend you are singing for someone right in front of you. Smiles and another hint that a judge gave me in my early days was to open my mouth. It took a while to figure out what he was saying, but when I did – I started to win.

Chord lists – Bain of my life –

 Mapping your song for the band I know is a pain, but it’s so crucial that you get it right. So many people blame the band for ruining their song, and I was guilty of this in my early days, but on second thought, my chord lists were pretty bad. If you do not know how to tune a song, go to your country music club and talk to musicians in the club who may be able to help you. Many people are only too happy to help you. Suggest that your club hold workshops for new people, and get those “experts” along to give their tips. As a last resort – pay someone. It’s so important that your chord charts are correct when you have enough to concentrate on!

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