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Big Crowds, Big Nerves

June 23, 2015

Illustrations of Cahill and Stark illustration via creaturetype.com (blog dedicated to letter to memphis)

Illustrations of Cahill and Stark illustration via creaturetype.com (blog dedicated to letter to memphis)

Performance anxiety can affect anyone at any age. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States. Even for Devon Cahill, a singer and ukulele player in a local bad Letter To Memphis, stage- fright hasn’t gone away. The band has been performing together for about four years now, but Cahill shared that herself and her band mate and fiancé Gene Stark get nervous before their shows.

“What is a day normally like before a show” another writing student asked Cahill. She explained that even through four years of performing, she still gets performance anxiety.

“Its nerve-racking, we have been playing for four years but I still get nervous and stage fright, it’s more like a nervous excitement, before a show I don’t eat anything, and neither does Gene,” Cahill said.

Being on stage and performing can be very hard and scary, but when doing the things you love and sharing messages of peace and love, it is easy to lose yourself in the music and the performance itself.

Cahill explains that every time she performs a song that she loves, it is almost cathartic. Sometimes it isn’t always as simple as the saying “practice makes perfect” Even for performers that have a wide range of experience and perform often, the nerves don’t always go away. Everyone is unique and their experiences can be different.

“The first time we played in front of a large audience was probably 2012. A large audience does a couple of things. It makes you nervous but it also makes you feel awesome,” Cahill said. “You can feed off of the crowd’s energy, especially if they are really into it and you can tell that they are digging your music. You feed off of that energy and it instills something extra into your performance.”

Cahill shared that she had grew up and struggled with anxiety, as well as still does to this day. Anxiety has brought her to her worst she said, as well as affected her performances with the band.

“Several years ago I had a panic attack on stage. That was the hardest experience I had. There were some people there that I really wanted to impress and after the set break I sang an entire song and my microphone wasn’t on and it was really embarrassing. I got really far up into my head and I just lost my whole spark and just freaked out,” she said. “There isn’t a lot to hide behind with guitar and vocals. I had to take a moment and stepped outside and took some deep breaths. Sometimes you have to just take some breaths and regroup and start again. The hardest thing when your performing is to let something roll off you shoulders if you mess up. At this point I just smile.”

Cahill also explained that the performance in which she was the most nervous was one in which she had to perform alone. She said that she had to sing and play on stage with no one to back her up or be there on stage with her.

“My band mates insisted that I performed a solo song. It was one of the most nerve-racking things I have done. I’m used to having the security blanket of having someone on stage with me and it was a very cool experience to play alone.

She also goes on to tell how that was the hardest thing she had to do, yet it was exhilarating. “It is very nerve-racking but very rewarding.”

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