Reggie Yates, a pop song presenter, was singing on 7th March 2005 at the UK Fame Academy for Comic Relief a charity that helps people in Africa and the UK. He is probably the worst singer in the group but has managed to survive to the last stages of the competition.
Following a key principle of evolution, the weakest singer gets slung out at the end of each day. Reggie has survived for several days even though he can't sing for toffee. Having been expelled from a choir at the age of eight I can relate to him and his lack of confidence and inability to sing. Gradually, however, his confidence is growing as he keeps being voted in. As his confidence grows, his tuning improves.
While he practised his song for Monday March 7th, Carrie Grant, the voice coach reassured Reggie that he was hitting the notes spot on. She commented:
"It just goes to show you that so much of singing is about confidence and what you are learning in here is building something in you because that is so much more in tune"
"Yes, it's getting better isn't it?" Reggie agreed.
Before his evening performance, Reggie had had his hair died red because he had allowed two goals in during an indoor game of soccer. He had agreed to pay a forfeit and his companions chose red hair. Reggie, being a man of his word, paid the forfeit and appeared on stage with close cropped red hair.
"Do you think it's going to improve your singing tonight" asked Cat the presenter.
"No-o!" replied Reggie emphatically. The audience laughed.
"But this performance is going to be all about having fun isn't it?" asked Cat.
"Yeah, man, I've had enough of being emotional and getting worried about songs. I'm going to try and enjoy it. And If it's rubbish, it's rubbish and if it's not it's not ".
Reggie sang a song of celebration and joy - 'Dancing on the ceiling' The words suited his mood of confidence and fun:
"What is happening here? Something going on It's not quite clear. Somebody turn on the lights We're going to have a party and its starting tonight
Oh oh what a feeling when we're dancing on the ceiling Oh oh what a feeling when we're dancing on the ceiling
So come on let's get loose. Don't hold back cause it ain't no use Got to keep your feet on the ground, because when we like to party We only want to get down
Oh oh what a feeling when we're dancing on the ceiling Oh oh what a feeling when we're dancing on the ceiling Oh oh what a feeling when we're dancing on the ceiling Oh oh what a feeling when we're dancing on the ceiling."
Reggie danced about the stage without a care in the world and sang with more confidence than ever before. Some of his singing was in tune! The audience gave him a rapturous reception.
One of the judges, Craig, gave his verdict: "Confidence and movement was great. The only thing I didn't like was the hair and the voice!"
Carrie Grant, the voice coach was laughing: " I noticed that the judges were bending down to listen closely to their monitors because they are not quite sure now whether you are out of tune or not. A couple of days ago they knew you were out of tune. Now they are not sure and that's good!"
I once played in a pop band where the singer was not always in tune but he sang with such confidence that everyone in the audience assumed that he was. The confident can get away with blue murder.
The secret to Reggie's success was his detachment from how good his performance would be: "If it's rubbish, it's rubbish and if it's not it's not".
Having accepted that his performance might be rubbish, he was free to go ahead and give it his best shot. This is a key success lesson in any activity.
Perfectionists become tense and anxious and sometimes do less than their best - those who are willing to work hard but to accept that they have much to learn can relax and let the chips fall where they may.
In the end Reggie's performance was a mixture of rubbish (weak singing) and not rubbish (movement and cheerful confidence) The audience loved it and they loved Reggie himself.The judges were left wondering! Reggie had successfully focused on his strengths and had successfully entertained the audience.
Growing confidence, focusing on one's strengths, accepting the possiblity of the worst outcome in advance and a cheeful, devil-may-care attitude, can be truly liberating and empowering. Reggie is still in the competition and is still dancing on the ceiling!