A friend of mine recently played a show that was flawlessly executed. People said many wonderful things after, and one of the many compliments I heard was “effortless.” Others were  “comfortable,” “confident,” “awesome,” you name it. But there was one I never heard, and I think it’s the mother of them all-- PREPARED.

She was prepared. Her whole band was. They had mapped out this show before there was even a show to map. Then they rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed some more, so that when 150 people eventually showed up, they calmly presented their work with ease. As one of those 150 people, I can tell you, it was beautiful to watch.

I’m not sure who decided that “effortless” was going to be a compliment, but it’s a concept that is strangely glorified. It's as if you’re more authentically awesome when you don’t have to try. Well I’m sorry, but that's just not how it works. I don’t care how much god-given talent you have. Zeus could be your father and Hera your mother, but even Hercules had to prepare (yes, I use mythology as scientific evidence from time to time here at To You, From a Songbird). Talent is just the guiding light that sparks the ship, and the reason you get better when you put the work in.

“Effortless” is a word people have used to describe the way that I sing. WELL, here is a behind-the-scenes look at having an “effortless” voice:

  1. 30 minutes (minimum) of vocal exercises every single day for the past six and a half years. When I say every single day, I mean literally every single day of my life, no matter where I am, what I’m doing, or who I’m with. I have family members, neighbors, roommates, coworkers, and subway cars full of annoyed commuters who can attest to this.
  2. Cutting out all caffeine 100% percent of the time.
  3. Cutting out all alcohol mostly all the time. But definitely any time I am weeks within a show/recording session.
  4. Daily yoga/exercise to build up lung capacity.
  5. Walking around like Randy from A Christmas Story, with a scarf mummy-wrapped around my neck, mouth, and nose any time it’s remotely cold (which is much of the time here in NYC).
  6. Not going to loud bars, or anywhere fun that I would require me to strain my voice.

You get the idea. It’s work to be effortless. It's this work that keeps us from going up on stage screaming, crying, and, worst of all, apologizing for being unprepared. So let’s redefine this word for the sake of creative work. 

Effortless: Being completely drained of effort. If each project requires a certain amount of effort to complete, then after the approximate 30 zillion hours you put in, there will be literally zero left in your tank.  Hence, you are effort-less.

I saw the same friend play shows five years ago, before she had put in 30 zillion hours, and no one was calling her effortless then. And I was singing five years ago, and no one was saying that about me either. I suppose people are quick to forget. And I suppose that’s not the worst thing in the world...

Love Love Love,


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  1. Ms. Kat, What you write and how you write is so beautiful and thoughtful. Bravo.

    PS. When will all your music come out in cd format for the old dinosaurs like me. I bought your one cd, and had to buy it used!

    PS. PS. Poetic efforts on SWer weekend without coffee? Impossible! Hope all are well with you and yours.

    Henry Ricci

    1. Thanks, Henry!! There are a few CDs out in the world right now.. I sell them at my shows but can special deliver some SW weekend :)

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