Award-winning Singer/Songwriter - Activist
Youth Educator- Birth Worker - Performance Artist
Recently I paid high dollar to see one of my favorite Female vocalists perform an Aretha Franklin tribute show. I was excited about the show but not excited about the venue. I’ve played this venue on several occasions, the first time as a teenager. Every time I’ve had issues with feedback, with stage monitors, and with the sound person not listening to the needs of performers.
I was hoping that since this event was a high dollar, one night only, tribute show to a legend that the venue would up their audio game for show time.
At any show the first few songs you can always expect a little adjustment, the mix is getting used to all the people in the room. By song four everything should be dialed in with the band and with the sound engineer.
Around the the fifth song the lead singer was now talking and pleading with the sound person to adjust levels in between songs. By song 7 I could see her and the band being the utmost professionals and just dealing with the inexperienced sound man. At one point the sound man walked right in front of the monitors, bumped into an elderly lady shoulder checking her and was just completely rude.
This attitude and the screeching ruined the show for me. After apologizing for my generation to the shaken woman, I talked to the club owner and he took no responsibility just made excuses as well. So unfortunately a lovely night with one of the most talented 10 piece bands was ruined because of the lack of attention from one person, the sound man.
Why I learned to run my own sound:
When I was 13 I was in my very first band. An eager little punk rocker who had a year of guitar and no lead vocal experience out side of choir class.
I had to wait for my guitarist to hook up the PA so that you could hear my vocals. As a true vocalist I always wanted to hear myself and more of me in the speakers. So finally I learned how to set up the PA. How to set up my amp and vocals so I could practice when the band wasn’t there. By 14 years old I was empowered to run the sound board and my little 4 piece band if needed.
Over the years I have taken sound lessons from the engineers who produced my records and ran my live band on countless gigs. I’ve worked with hundreds of sound men and a handful of sound women at festivals and workshops. I’ve produced showcases, hosted open stages and MC’d several events. The star of the show to me, the hidden talent that you should never notice is the sound person. Ever hear that screeching high pitched noise, that most likely was the terror error of the sound person.
There are some basic things about sound that I feel most people especially musicians should know. There are a few simple mindful techniques when working with or as a sound person. I’m excited for the opportunity to share more and teach a class focused on how to run live sound.
Thank you Hana Arts, Her Many Voices Foundation and our sponsors for this amazing workshop on October 29th in Hana, Hawaii.
We will video this class and will make it available through the Her Many Voices Foundation and this website.
About Melissa Ivey
Melissa Ivey is an award-winning Singer/Songwriter and Youth Educator from Denver, CO. She does public speaking engagements at schools, churches and spiritual centers, and leads guided music meditations.