Built by a lifetime of travel, art, advocacy and a trip to the edge and back, Myrna Hague-Bradshaw has proven her magnetism. Time and again, dedicated patrons flock to her jazz concerts, festivals and benefits to bask in the rolling, easy but expert flow of her astounding vocals.
On the heels of the staging of her signature concert, Simply Myrna, the accomplished vocalist shared some sage advice. Filled with the wisdom of experience and decades of professionalism, she stated that the best way for a performer to properly engage with an audience – to the point at which they always come back for more – is by opening themselves up to the audience, securing an inimitable repertoire, while adding a bit of self-care.
“I open myself to my audience. People get to see me behind the songs. You take a song, look at the words and analyse them. If the words are meaningful, and you can translate that so your audience gets the same meaning and feeling, people will always come for that. It’s the emotional connection that you make with people. “ Myrna Hague-Bradshaw told The Sunday Gleaner.
Alive & Alive
Another aspect of Hague’s magnetism is her repertoire.
“I’m probably the single person in Jamaica who is doing that particular kind of repertoire. People are drawn to that,” she continued.
When asked what was her favourite song to perform, the response was apt – leaving little wonder as to her connection with the music.
“I’ve been singing for such a long time. I have many favourite songs over the time. But there’s one that has been with me for a little while – in recent times. It’s called Edge of Life.”
Years ago, Hague-Bradshaw found herself teetering on that edge after being diagnosed with breast cancer. After suffering the illness and enduring treatments for 16 months, she recovered in November 2005. Since then, Hague sees life with a refreshed perspective.
Simply Myrna is staged again and again – fuelled solely by her excitement in being alive.
“If you get to a place where you weren’t sure you were gonna make it, then getting to a place where ‘I’m here; I didn’t drop off the edge’ makes life exciting, full of drama, excitement and challenges. I’m glad that I’m still in the midst of it. It’s a fantastic place to be, to be alive and to be healthy. You could be alive and not alive. But I’m alive and alive. I’m still able to do what I love to do, which is perform.”
Health is Wealth
Hague also has advice that any aspiring performer should regard.
“Your voice lives in your body, so your body has to be healthy, first of all. From a physical point of view, I do a little 20 minutes exercise, three days a week. I used to go to the gym, but I don’t go to the gym any more. I do it at home and it works just fine. In terms of what I eat, I’m very careful. More fruits, more vegetables, very little meat anymore, but every once in a while I treat myself!” she said with a laugh.
For the performances, her advice is simple. “You want to warm up if you’re going to do a performance. Some people warm up incorrectly. If you have learnt how to sing properly, learnt how to use and understand your voice, the instrument and how it works—then you know what you’re doing. And then you don’t have to practice everyday… Like stand up, stop what you’re doing…! But I practice all the time. When I’m doing the dishes, I’m singing. When I’m cleaning, I’m singing. As I’m singing I’m hearing my voice and if it’s okay. I’m always aware of my instrument and how it is, and at what stage it is and what I need to adjust.
“But always, if you have a big concert coming up, especially if you’re opening with a big song (you don’t wanna go in too cold), you’re gonna wanna warm up. Just like if you’re gonna run a marathon, you don’t just get up there and start running,” Myrna said.