I cried in front of two strangers at Fairbridge Folk Festival in Western Australia. We were standing outside the Churros stall, discussing what a wonderful weekend of music it had been, when a young woman who was passing by stopped to say: “Hey Ange, I just wanted to let you know that you were my favourite”.
As she walked off I could feel my throat tightening and tears welling up in my eyes. The couple who I’d been chatting to seemed a little surprised at my overly emotional reaction to the girl’s compliment but what they didn’t know is that it came off the back of an extraordinary gig. One of those gigs you live for as an artist. When the venue is absolutely jam-packed full of people who hang on your every word and song. When you sell out of your CDs and books. When you walk away feeling like a winner.
But my tears were not about winning. They were about knowing what it feels like to lose.
As an independent artist you can spend months making tour plans, booking flights, doing radio interviews, promoting gigs online, putting up posters, singing your heart out, juggling your day-job with your dream-job ... only to find yourself performing to a half-empty venue where the audience consists mostly of people over the age of 70 who are wearing tracksuit pants and eating M&Ms out of plastic cups ... or singing to a packed venue, only to sell one CD and have a man approach your merchandise stall asking whether your music is available at the local library ... or travelling a great distance, only to be told on arrival by a festival volunteer that your accommodation for the next three nights will be a swag inside a sheep shed ... or arriving home at the end of a long tour to realise you didn't even break-even.
That's when that you cry tears of frustration and ask yourself what on earth you are doing with this whole 'music thing' ... and why, months later, you cry tears of joy when someone taps you on the shoulder at a festal and says "you were my favourite”.
If you’re reading this blog it means you’ve been supporting my creative career (the winning gigs and the losing gigs) and for that – I am truly, madly, deeply grateful.
P.S. The above photo was taken at Fairbridge Folk Festival inside one of my favourite venues of all time - The Chapel. I did some bonding with Mother Mary and her (rather chunky) Baby Jesus backstage ahead of my performance. It paid off.
P.P.S. For the record - I have nothing against people who wear tracksuit pants.