The Best Performance I Ever Saw

I lived in New York for 13 years and saw a lot of amazing singers. But the singer that I keep thinking about, 7 years after I saw him perform, wasn’t on Broadway or in Madison Square Garden.

He was singing on a Carnival Cruise. In the Karaoke lounge.

To be extra clear, he wasn’t a paid performer. Nope, this was a guy in his 60s, singing his heart out while people drank frozen cocktails on the open sea.

Now, when it comes to karaoke, I’m a huge snob. But not in the way you think.  If you’re not the best singer, that’s totally fine. But you have to pick a fun song and commit to it. Life’s too short for any half-assed renditions of “Baby Got Back,” drunken attempts at “Bohemian Rhapsody” or anything long, slow, and sad.

So, when this Carnival fella got up to sing “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera, I prepared for disaster.

Worst of all, he had no mask. What is Phantom without a mask?!?

If you’re not familiar with Phantom, “Music of the Night” is a very pretty song, but it’s long, hard to sing, and did I mention? -- really damn long. In my opinion, it’s every bad karaoke choice in one.

He started to sing. It was fine. Not Michael Crawford, but not bad.

But he sang with such emotion. Every word seemed so real and true. As if all the creative passions in his life were being realized in this grand performance for a bar full of elderly karaoke enthusiasts.  

I was riveted. All my shitty karaoke skepticism melted away and I became totally engrossed by the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic.

Footage of me in the audience.

When he was done, everyone cheered, and he kept the mic for a final message to a group in the corner.

“Thank you all so much. Ever since I fought in the military, I haven’t experienced friends as wonderful as you. I love you all.”

So, there I was. Drinking a frozen dacquiri, surrounded exclusively by people 40 years my senior on a Carnival cruise, crying over an ex-soldiers karaoke rendition of Phantom of the Opera!

This man expressed his love and appreciation of his close friends through song and it was beautiful.

This just goes to show that a performance is about so much more than your looks or the sound of your voice.

When you can really connect to emotion and express something deep inside of you - it’s so incredibly wonderful to see. It doesn’t matter whether you sound like Beyonce or Gilbert Gottfried-- as long as you perform with passion you will win over a crowd.

If a 60 year old guy singing Karaoke on a budget cruise line can move me to tears, than what’s stopping you from performing a song that brings joy to someone’s life?

If you'd like to work on your Music of the Night, why not try a session with me? Find out more >>