Teen Crooner On Love And Stage Fright

by Salim Boykin
Also Featured on KQED

Teen Crooner On Love And Stage Fright

by Salim Boykin
Also Featured on KQED
02.11.16
02.11.16

Salim Boykin

At a recent show, I sang “stop the world”– by Maxwell. I heard this girl in the front row. The loudest girl in there. Every time I hit a run– a series of notes going up and down–she yelled, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, girl, he doesn’t even know.”

It wasn’t always like this for me. Just a few years ago, I’d sing as loud as I wanted in the shower, as long as no one was watching. But I was terrified to take the spotlight. The truth is, I was scared to even talk to people. Completely scared of girls. Just living in this intensely awkward shell.

I slowly worked up my nerve by attending open mics. I started performing poetry. Then rap. And one day, a full on love song:

This is for those that bleed
That want, but have no need
This ain’t for the war
This is only
For lovers only

I was trembling throughout the song. And at the end, I stared at the audience for maybe two seconds in silence. Then they broke into applause. It felt good, and I knew I wanted more.

Part of my new found confidence comes from finally having the courage to do what I love, what I had been afraid to do for so long. And part of it comes from owning my own vulnerability.

For me to really give my best performance, I need to make myself vulnerable and trust that my audience will take me as seriously as I’m taking them.

I’ve discovered the energy and the confidence that I get from performing. It carries over to other parts of my life. It’s bigger than singing. It’s changed how I carry myself, how I speak with people.

And, thankfully, it’s also taken the stress out of finding a date for Valentine’s Day.

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