There is a restaurant in North Charleston, The CODfather, that serves the most perfect, most delicious fish and chips one could ever eat. And we are not the only ones to think this- every time we go, there is a line out the door, tables and parking places at a premium. So you can imagine my surprise and amusement when I read the back of one of the server’s t-shirts: “Come try the worst fish and chips that one bloke on Yelp ever had.” Incredulous, I asked her if someone had really reviewed the restaurant that way. She confirmed it was a real review and that the owner/chef and everyone who worked there had had a fantastic laugh about it; hence, the t-shirt.

This is a brilliant move on the part of the owner: take the worst review, and also the most absurd one by most people’s estimation, and turn it into a joke as well as wonderful marketing. Clearly most people don’t agree with this unhappy customer (I suspect he doesn’t have taste buds). However, unless he had some unknown vendetta against the restaurant, this “bloke” was expressing his true feelings that it was, in fact, the worst fish and chips he had ever had.

So, why am I writing about this fish and chips restaurant and its one memorably bad review? Because this story shows how powerful one’s opinion can be, and strangely enough, reminds me of an audition experience I had many years ago:

Once upon a time, when I was auditioning for anything and everything, I saw an audition notice for a new opera company starting up in New York City that was going to specialize in comic operas- right up my alley, I thought. In order to get an in-person audition, you had to send in a recording. So I did. I got an email back informing me I was not granted another audition. For some reason, I decided to ask why. I got the following in reply: “I think you have the ugliest voice I have ever heard.”

Well then.

Did it hurt me? Yes, of course. But it also struck me as absurd. Thankfully not everyone shared this man’s opinion because other people had hired me (and have continued to hire me) which would not have happened if I did, indeed, have the ugliest voice. But that was his opinion and since he was in charge, his opinion became fact.

But opinion is NOT fact. Facts in singing: correct pitches, lyrics, rests, musical notations, intonation. But everything else, EVERYTHING ELSE is opinion. Beautiful voice? Opinion. Flawless technique? Opinion. Horrible singer? Opinion. But far too often in the arts, people in positions of power often mistake their opinions for facts and the artist on the receiving end does too. And that can be terribly destructive, both emotionally and psychologically. This doesn’t mean that all you have to do is sing the song correctly and get the job. Far from it. It does mean that when you don’t get hired, you were not what the people in charge were looking for. They may have thought you indeed had the ugliest voice, or that you just weren’t right for the part; you were too much this or not enough that, in their opinion. No matter what it was, however, it is definitely not a sign that you should give up. It is a sign that if you still love it, if you still want it, you try again. And again, and again…until you find those people who think you are the perfect one for their show.

I guess I need a t-shirt: “Come hear the singer who some bloke thought had the ugliest voice they ever heard.”

 

Quote: “Your opinion is not my reality.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli