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on talking on stage (and my favourite Mark Murphy story)


Judy Rodman just wrote a blog post on talking onstage and I wanted to add my anecdotal experience about this. Click here to read her article first.

As a performer, I love talking on stage. I feel like jokes and stories can unite an audience and give them a shared since of emotion. I usually open my shows with a song but as soon as possible I take the time to say hello, thank the audience, look around and listen and gauge the room.

As an audience member, I love listening to a performer talk. A skilled speaker can make you feel like you know them. There have been a few shows I’ve attended where the performer said nothing at all and I end up leaving feeling like I’ve been left out of something.

My favourite experience with stage talk was two years ago when I was attending a Mark Murphy concert. He began introducing the next song by asking the audience if they had seen Brokeback Mountain. He spoke for twenty full minutes explaining the intricacies of the plot. He spoke of the two cowboys, Ennis and Jack, who form an unlikely romance that lasts a life time. He explained how they couldn’t be together and how they each married other people but those marriages suffered because of their love of each other. Jack tries to convince Ennis to live with him but Jack refuses to walk away from his children. They fight, and Jack leaves. Finally, Ennis tries to communicate with Jack but his postcard is returned, stamped “deceased.” Jack is heartbroken.

That’s when Mark Murphy said, “If I were the musical director of that film, I would have played this song…” [sc_embed_player fileurl=”″] (click to play)

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Renée is a queer, non-binary, disabled, and chronically ill creator based in Montreal. They are a singer, songwriter, pianist, YouTuber, and Periscoper. They are currently a student of jazz studies at Mcgill University and a freelance vocal coach for young and emerging singers.


  1. You share a very important ‘other side’ to talking on stage here, Renee… that of the storyteller/singer whom the audience has come to hear tell stories. If those stories are not told in those types of performance settings, I agree, the audience would come away feeling cheated. It’s so important to ask ourselves what the audience expects and desired out of our performances, and then to give that with all our hearts. Thanks for your thoughts here!

  2. I so agree with you Renee. I also want some talk. I want to be drawn in, to feel connected to the artist, to be part of the circle. Yes, it’s important to hit the right amount, and sure, it’s not easy and can be daunting, but I have walked out of shows with very good vocal artists because I was not drawn in (no talking, not even a hello or a thank you for coming). I’m sure there are some exceptions I would make, but generally I want to hear the story – whatever the story is. LOVE the Mark Murphy story! So awesome.

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