Don’t Sing To The Wrong Audience

To this day I wish we could have helped him.

A few years ago my husband and I, and my college girlfriends and their spouses, drove to Virginia on a weekend getaway to a jazz music festival. Great people. Fantastic food. Lots of laughs. Total blast.

Until the final night of the jazz festival. That’s when we witnessed what could best be described as disaster. Relax, no bullets, blood, or bodies were involved. But I can guarantee you the artist discussed in this post would still feel the pain if you mentioned this incident.

That Saturday night my tribe of music lovers and I sat perched in our seats at the top of an indoor arena. For the first two hours, all was lovely as we listened to wonderful smooth jazz music played by phenomenal artists. We even danced in our seats a bit when one of them launched into a cool jazz-funk set. Then the last artist hit the stage with his background singers and musicians in tow.

Great Voice…Wrong Style

I won’t mention the artist’s name here. Let’s just call him “Super Cool Soul Guy”. Well, Super Cool strutted out to the front of the stage, grabbed the mic, signaled his background singers and launched into a gorgeous rendition of one of his top hits. He moved. And he grooved. He sang his heart out and sounded incredible. I moved to the edge of my seat and rocked my shoulders to the beat.

I ceased chair dancing and stared down at the floor area after 10 minutes of music. People were leaving. At first I thought maybe they were heading to the back of the arena to buy food and drinks. No, these men and women held their mini-coolers, blankets, jackets, purses and backpacks in hand. Couples. Then small groups. Then…a mass exodus. So many people walked out that from where I sat I kept waiting for Moses to part the red sea.

But He Could Sing

Now remember, Super Cool can sang. He’s had quite a few hits. Heck, I’m a huge fan of his. The only mistake he made was somehow appearing with a collection of jazz artists before an audience of money-paying hard-core jazz enthusiasts. Those folks took one look at the background singers with their ripped jeans and plaid shirts tied around their waists and decided that a tatted and soulful Super Cool was not their cup of <insert favorite drink here>. And…they jetted.

Of course, Super Cool had some supporters in the midst. They rushed the stage in fact, singing along, waving their arms and rocking their hips in time to the music. And up in the stands, my friends and I supported him as much as we could. But the damage was done and by the end of his set, you could hear the disappointment in his voice. I wanted to jump down and give him a hug.

Define Your Genre

The moral of the story, dear writers, is don’t sing to the wrong audience. Define your genre carefully. In other words, you may have written a contemporary story, but if it includes a clear message of redemption and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, its Christian fiction, even if the sub-genre is historical or romance or mystery. As authors, we want our work to appeal to the greatest amount of people, and your families and friends will be there for you, but the biggest bang for your buck is to be forthright about what you are writing.

Be committed and honest about your genre. Don’t sing to the wrong audience. Your words may sound good…but some listeners may still tune out.