The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

The Photo Shoot

Well this was a very, very exciting day for me. A photo shoot. Imagine me, me, having a photo shoot?! I had been trying on my outfits for weeks at home. Of course the additional weight gained over lockdown and holidays meant that a lot of clothes were tight and some were just too tight to wear. I had also spent months sourcing the jewellery I wanted. That Turquoise look, you know, it’s very ‘in’ in country music. I found some in very unlikely shops, thankfully, as the majority of what I wanted was only on sale in America and the cost of shipping was sometimes three times the amount of the item I wanted to buy. Thank you to Esty, Next and Amazon.

It was a dry day which was great as it had been raining most of the week before. We headed off to country park and we started the photo shoot. It was such fun once I got into it all. The photographer, Sean from Essay Photography https://essayphotography.co.uk/ was so good as putting me at ease and talking me through the various shots and directed me as to what to do, where to look etc. I had five outfits and had to run back to my car which was parked in the lane, to quickly get changed and update the jewellery I was wearing for the next batch of photos to be taken.

Once we had finished in the country park we headed into Digbeth in Birmingham to Norton’s Irish Bar. What a fabulous venue. I can’t believe I haven’t been there on a night out!!! The staff were amazing, so accommodating and eager to help with the photo shoot. Again, very exciting for me and at least this time I had the ladies bathroom to change my clothes in.

Standing and sitting up on the stage was amazing, I’ve not been up on a stage before. It filled me with such excitement and nerves. Once again, Sean was great at directing me and we have some absolutely fabulous shots from within Norton’s.

By the end of the day I felt like a real singer songwriter, almost like it’s not a dream anymore, I’m really making this happen and the right people are crossing my path to help me along in my dreams. We liked it so much at Norton’s we are going back there at the start of next month to film the video. There’ll be no talking to me I’ll be that hyper after filming a video.

Norton’s Bar https://nortons.bar/ If you are in Birmingham, drop in for a Guinness or a Jameson’s.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Caffeine and Confidence

I do love my cup of coffee in the mornings, in fact I have two cups in the morning. Not huge cups of coffee and not strong coffee but I do love my caffeine fix. If you follow me on social media you probably know that I absolutely adore a skinny cappuccino and that’s a real treat to have one of those.

Confidence, well, that’s something I’m not so good at having on a daily basis. Some days I get up and I feel like I can take on the world and other days I wonder what on earth am I doing following a dream. Shouldn’t I just stop messing about and get a ‘proper’ job? The inner dialogue is incredible at times. Isn’t it amazing how we can talk ourselves in and out of doing things? Things become harder than we thought they would be so we say ‘oh well, this is too much work and for what, I’ll probably fail’ but what if we succeed and we have given up with the finishing line in the distance but just out of sight?

I have waivered over the past few months with the music career. I found researching the music licensing quite difficult. There was so much to read, so many takes on what should or shouldn’t be done. Thankfully I had decided to join the Musicians Union https://musiciansunion.org.uk/ some months ago and it was one of the best things I have done so far in my musical journey. The information is clear and precise and there is a lot of helpful information. I have also availed of some of their free webinars which have been invaluable to me as someone who has never been in the music industry before. I discovered which organisations I needed to join and why. I decided that rather than trying to do a little bit of everything at the same time, I should tackle one task at a time, in order. I was getting overwhelmed with everything, losing focus and getting downright confused. Taking things a step at a time worked for me.

I joined PPL https://www.ppluk.com/ which is the UK music licensing organisation and started to make my way through the membership process. The website is easy to navigate and again, lots of useful information. It is free to join (which is a bonus) and I know a lot of people would just tick ‘I agree’ to the various agreements you need to complete and sign but I have to read each one, every single term and condition and if I didn’t understand one I would research it. In my head I kept saying that with 130,000 members everything must be sound, I still had to check. Must be down to my prior roles in international law firms and my accountancy training. I just had to check. However, this became a long drawn out process for me. So much to read and research. Then when it came to completing the forms it was decision time. Did I want UK and Ireland or Worldwide? If I wanted to include Europe, France have a different music licensing system and I needed to select which one I wanted to collect royalties on my behalf. More research. I got that far and left the process for a while…

When I returned, my membership process had now split into three parts; performer, audio and video. More terms and conditions. At one stage I thought I had made a total balls up of the process and rang the membership enquires line. The lady I spoke to was fabulous. Very helpful, very friendly and she was interested in my story. I continued with the process, submitted everything and 24 hours later I received the emails to confirm that I was now a full member and licensed to play my music and videos containing my music. Oh my goodness, the excitement is unreal. It was so worth digging down into the research and learning about what I was doing. I also received my ISRC tag which is the unique identifier for each of my songs so that PPL can collect any royalites due on my behalf. And this is where I return to confidence. All through this process, which took me quite a while on and off, I wondered what I was doing and why was I doing it. When the memberships came through it gave me a huge confidence boost. I was a step closer to getting my music out there, to launching myself as a musician, a singer, a songwriter, on the world. It gave me the boost to start believing in myself more.

The next step is uploading my music to PPL and also choosing a music aggregation company in order to make my music available for purchase and streaming on the various music platforms. I had a look yesterday at ‘uploading your repertoire’. Let’s get the coffee on and I’ll come back to that!

Never underestimate the power of caffeine and confidence.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

A Workout Gig

After just over two years I recently attended my first music gig since the start of the pandemic. I admit I was concerned about being in a sold out venue with at least 2,500 other music lovers singing and dancing. After what we have been through and how we so quickly got used to not mixing with others, touching others and dancing with strangers, what used to be the norm had become something of pure fear. I did wear my mask into the venue and soon realised that I was very much in the minority and once the show started, I didn’t see anyone with masks apart from a few staff.

The auditorium was large and airy, I had forgotten quite how large it was in the theatre. Once we had taken our seats the excitement was building and you could feel it amongst the audience. The most words I heard spoken all night was ‘I’ve not been out for two years’, we were all feeling the same sheer delight at being out at a Nathan Carter concert once more.

In the spotlight.

Claudia Buckley was the support act and this girl has come on in leaps and bounds since I last seen her in January 2020. Claudia has the most beautiful voice and a wonderful personality, she is well able to engage with the audience and sings a fabulous mixture of Irish country songs alongside old style country songs with a mixture of the newer country songs. Claudia had the audience well warmed up and happy awaiting the main event.

All the sparkles!

Next up was Nathan Carter and wow, was he on form and the band also. You could see how much they were enjoying being back on stage singing, playing their music and interacting with the audience. It was amazing to be there, to experience the sheer joy in the theatre from everyone. The staff that they were back at work, the band that they were out playing their music again, the audience singing and dancing and smiling and even the security, who try as they might could not keep people in their seats, from early on we were up dancing. It felt like freedom.

Talking about dancing, I have no idea what kind of jumping around I was doing but my Fitbit was convinced of the following…

It was a fantastic night, I think I was on a high for days afterwards. I did manage to get a few quick videos of the evening. Rather than be behind my phone taking photos and videos I decided to just embrace the whole show as it unfolded. Just like we used to. From what I could see around me, people tended to stay within the groups that they had attended the concert with. In the past we would have all joined hands and sang and danced but we were careful. I had antigen tests everyday for the next week and they were all negative. Bring on the next gig!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-4a2trg4SU

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/RzSAyod67S4

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Confidence

Photo taken 21 2 21

Last year I really pushed the comfort zone and did three Facebook live performances, two for thirty minutes and the final one for an hour. I was nervous, scared, excited, thrilled and I thoroughly enjoyed each one. I had between twenty and thirty people watching the lives and afterwards the saved videos had hundreds of views and such wonderful, encouraging comments. During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 I regularly did a ‘Happy Monday’ chat on Instagram. I didn’t chat about anything in particular. A little like my blog, I would just chat away about whatever came to mind. Again, I would receive numerous messages telling me how I brightened up a day, or I made someone laugh or just that they enjoyed the chat as if I was just chatting away to them. All good, I was delighted and then it all stopped and I have no idea why. Was it because life started to open up again and there was less time spent at home? Why did I no longer have five minutes to chat, ten minutes to record myself singing a song and post it online? Or did I just stop believing in my ability to do these things?

Note to self.

I admit that the weight I gained over the last six months of last year did not help me with getting out there singing. I’m not a super confident person but I can blag it and appear confident and then I get into my stride and I’m ok. However I appear to have lost the ability to even blag it. As you may have read from previous posts I have taken my diet and fitness in hand and I’m getting there. I have so many plans in my head for the things I want to do yet I always find an excuse not to do them. My hair isn’t done or I’m not wearing make up so I won’t sing into the phone. That didn’t stop me in 2020, I just did it. I have my self penned songs recorded and I have chosen one to release as a single. I want to get some professional photos done for the single artwork and just to put out there to promote my music. I have researched photographers, video makers, music aggregators and music licencing and yet I have done nothing about these things. I’m wondering what I am afraid of? I know this isn’t any easy profession and I know I have to work hard and I’m not afraid of that. I love singing and from the feedback I get, people love me to sing. I can visualise myself up there, on a stage singing my heart out and being so happy doing it, yet I’m scared to actually do it. Is it a case that I am more comfortable with the dream than actually making it happen? The thought of actually taking the steps to make this dream come true fills me with delight, excitement and sheer sparkle and yet that little voice of fear saying ‘what makes you think people want to see/hear/listen to you’ is getting more attention in my brain than the positive thoughts.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I really do want to sing it out with my whole heart and soul, I want my moment in the spotlight, I want to see and hear people singing and dancing along with me. I want to share my music, I want to give people happiness, a giggle and to make them feel good. So, I suppose I really do need to get out of my own way and make things happen. Ok world, get ready, I’m coming…

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Evolving

As if I need an excuse to drink coffee…

Well, a bit like my city in my last post, I’ve been evolving too. I changed my website host to WordPress, because I love using it for my blog and decided it will be easier for me to update something I am familiar using. So my website for my music is https://dawnmaxwellmusic.com/ please check it out and let me know what you think. It’s very different to how I had built the website before and I like this new look. It has just come to mind that it ties in with one of the songs I have written and recorded ‘Fade to Grey’, perhaps that was no coincidence. I admit there isn’t much content yet on the website but I have plans for 2022 and hopefully I will be very busy updating the website with what I’m up to music wise. So exciting.

I have also changed the content to my FB music page. I love positive quotes and affirmations and I was receiving messages telling me that my daily posts, non music related, were very uplifting and gave people positive vibes in the mornings. So alongside the music, I’m continuing with the quotes, affirmations and all things sparkle because that’s just who I am. For some reason I was trying to keep the music separate and then it hit me, it is who I am so I need to just embrace it and bring it all along together. It may not fit for some people but it fits for me and if just one person gets a much needed lift or positive energy from a post then I love that. https://www.facebook.com/DawnMaxwellMusic So if you are on FB, pop over and give me a follow and join in with the positive vibes and sparkle a plenty.

Gratitude

I will take this opportunity to say a very big thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey. The high’s, the low’s and the rock bottom. Although I encounter some very black, sad days that are hard to bear, I also encounter some very happy, make it happen, you can do this days. It’s amazing how a random comment from someone can lift you up and raise your spirits and give you confidence to believe in yourself. I am so grateful for you all and I feel blessed to have met you along our paths, online or otherwise.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Recording Day

Here we go…

Well, recording day was supposed to have taken place last Monday but I had one of those weeks were I was not feeling 100%. Started off as a head cold which then became a bit of a fever with a sore throat. Monday morning, recording day, I could barely speak, never mind sing so I had to postpone and reschedule for today. Fingers crossed. As last week progressed, I had aches, then headaches, nauseous tummy and more headaches. Thankfully not all on the same day. I rarely get ill so I’m hoping that now it’s behind me, that’s it for a long time to come. I did my lateral flow tests every two days, always negative so definitely not Covid. I did wonder where I picked this up from as I really don’t go to many places or see many people and any people I had seen have not been ill in any way? Life is strange.

I was disappointed at first that I had had to reschedule my recording day. I have been working on the songs I was due to record for over a year and had been rehearsing singing them for weeks. Making sure the timing was spot on, checking how I wanted to sing the song, where to emphasise the drama, the hurt, the pain and the release. However, once I had made the decision that I just wasn’t able to sing and therefore would be unable to give the songs 100% the disappointment left me. Everything happens for a reason so I’m thinking that I must be due to sing better than ever when I get behind the microphone today.

I completed a few modules on the music tech course I’m doing. I also love researching law of attraction and law of abundance. There appears to be so much online to read about these spiritual laws and of course you have to be careful what you are reading and who has written it. I love people who are just glowing with energy and positive vibes when they are telling their stories. The ones who aren’t trying to sell you the impossible or sell you masterclasses. No, the ones who are speaking from the heart, telling their own story. I enjoy those a lot. I do believe that in a way I am manifesting my dream life in singing although I know that I am working very hard behind the scenes to make it happen, I am making it happen. I wonder too if somehow I manifested the strange week of various ailments but not actually fully coming down with a cold/flu/sinus infection. Did I talk myself into having a bad throat? I know the previous week I had often voiced ‘all I need is to get a cold now and I won’t be able to record’. Hmmm, I wonder.

But first, Coffee

Have a fabulous Monday and a wonderful week ahead.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Gone Live

I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last post, the time is flying by and as usual, busy, busy days. It sure is correct that the older you get the faster time goes and surprisingly even in these days of lockdown and restrictions, the time has passed very quickly.

Anyway, I was planning on writing a post about how my first FB live session went and I still will include this information and also tell you how the second FB live session went. Yes, I’ve done two!! Go me and pushing the comfort zone in all directions.

My first ever publicity poster!

I was so excited when the lady that runs The Virtual Club Bar group on FB sent me the above photograph for sharing the event. It was really happening. The day before the event I managed to get a bit of a cold with a sore throat. Typical. I drank lots of honey and lemon and a few Lemsips to ensure I had some kind of voice on the day. Oh I was nerve wracked the thirty minutes before I went live. I was so excited and so scared. I pressed the “go live” button and that was it, I was on. I had selected eight songs and I started off with the first one and although I couldn’t see comments I could see lots of hearts and thumbs up floating across the screen which helped so much. I knocked my microphone over half way through but I kept going. I do have a habit of losing myself in the music and forgetting where I am in a song and that happened to me during “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight”, I kept talking, restarted the backing track and off I went again. I have often said to my lovely vocal coach that my USP will be the audience wondering if I will come in on the right note, at the right time and if I can remember the lyrics because I do drift away into a world of musical daydreams.

Celebrate Good Times Come On!

By the time my 30 minutes was up I was nothing short of exhilarated, I’d done it, my very first gig in a virtual kind of way. My throat just about held up to the last song. It was well received as I was asked back and I did another 30 minutes, without microphones falling or forgetting where I was in the song, on March 14th and I was delighted with the comments and feedback. Somehow I managed to save this particular FB live session to my phone and I have uploaded it to You Tube so if you have half hour free at any point, tune in and let me know what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlqpXf1z_vo&t=23s

The Second Poster.

I have been asked back a third time this time for an hour on Sunday 25th April at 5pm so I am currently working on my set list for that. “Rose Garden” appears to be a firm favourite for people and I’m going to start including more Country and Irish songs as I get more confident. This has been great practice so far for when I may be able to take to an actual stage. The head will be gone off me with nerves when I get that far.

Praying and Manifesting.

Singing is something I always wanted to do and never ever thought I would. After a career in Industry leading to the Corporate world and then giving it up to be a carer for Mom and Dad, I never allowed myself to think that I could make this happen. Yet here we are. I didn’t give up on the dream, I pray, I push myself, I dare to feel the fear and have a go. What have we got to lose but a bit of pride if things don’t go as planned. I know I will regret not having a go at this. I love singing so much, my guitar playing is coming along and I receive such lovely comments from people that it spurs me on. Never ever give up on your dream, you can manifest it, you need to work for it and you can do it.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Music Diva

It has been a while since I blogged about what I’m doing with my music. If you don’t follow me on Instagram or FB you won’t have seen my various leaps of faith over the past year. You may remember that I had started to learn to play guitar. My sessions were very start and stop due to my caring role and then the sudden passing of my parents last year. I returned to the vocal coaching and guitar sessions towards the end of last year. Just before lockdown was imposed here in the UK, my guitar tutor informed me that he felt I was ready to attend an acoustic night and feel the waters of performing live. I was happy I was finally at that stage of my learning and I was also so scared. The thought of actually getting up on stage to sing and play guitar…absolutely terrifying. And then came lockdown, great weather and the gardening.

Leap of faith time.

As lockdown ensured all live gigs were cancelled, social media, especially FB, was alive with people performing. Singing, playing instruments, comedy sketches, art work, you get the drift. I decided that now was the perfect time to try some of this for myself. How hard could it be to sing into the phone? Actually, it was nerve wracking. The number of times I had to say to myself “you don’t have to post this online, it’s just a practice run”. Sometimes it took hours to sing and record a song. I would lose my way in the song (sometimes I get carried away with the melody and forget the lyrics). Sometimes I forget to come in at the right point in the song, sometimes I sing in the wrong key. I can tell I’m going to be a very interesting act when the time comes.

I made a start and my first effort sounded ok (I’m terrible at self praise), I looked like a statue on the video. My friends all gave very positive comments and messaged me to say “why aren’t you smiling?” or “why aren’t you moving?”. It was difficult enough for me to stand there and sing into the phone, remember the lyrics and come in at the right point of the intro never mind move or smile.

However, each song I sang I became a little more confident. I shared my songs to various groups on Facebook and I was blown away with the amount of views and lovely comments I would receive. I started to receive messages with requests and I’m making my way through the list. I’m so enjoying that people want to hear me sing!

I have a wobble now and again, a crisis of confidence, wonder what on earth I’m doing, think that I’m not good enough. Then I have a word with myself and tell myself to just go for it, do what makes me happy and if I want to sing, play guitar and be sparkly then I should just do it. It’s so easy to measure yourself against what someone else is doing, or how others appear to get shared everywhere and I’m plodding along. But plodding along is good, I have a lot to learn about the music industry and how it works and what I need to do, the next steps. I’ll get there. A lovely lady once said to me to take the long road up the mountain, the scenic view, it’ll be better for me when I reach the top.

Another piece of advice I was given is about believing in myself because if I didn’t, nobody else would.

It’s up to me to do this!!

I have written some songs which I am working on with my guitar tutor. It really is the most amazing feeling to hear the music that was in my head come to life. I’m loving practising the songs on the guitar. We are even talking about getting into the studio next Spring and recording a CD. This is the stuff dreams are made of, well that my dreams are made of.

Find me on https://www.facebook.com/DawnMaxwellMusic

Or https://www.instagram.com/aurora_sparkles/

Not forgetting https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVHLg_2erVoITLESQY5trTw?

With love and sparkles xx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

The Show Must Go On?

Well with everything that has happened and is happening in my life, the music has well and truly taken more than a backseat.  I think it’s probably in another vehicle, on another road in a completely different City to me – that’s how distant and disengaged I have been from my music.  Lots of very well meaning friends have said “get back to your singing you’ll feel better”, or “pick up your guitar and strum” you’ll feel better.  I tried. I didn’t feel better.  Music was a huge part of my life with my Mom and Dad, there wasn’t a day that there wasn’t a radio on, You Tube on, Keep it Country on, and all of us singing at one time or another during the day.  We loved the music.  My parents were so proud of me for following my dream but the dream doesn’t hold the same promise anymore.

My lovely guitar tutor on my first session with him recently suggested that we leave my usual genres of Country Music and Irish Music alone for a while.  It could be too sad for me.  So in order to get back to playing guitar and relearning the chords, we’ll try different genres.  Great idea!!  I did the same when I returned to my vocal coach and I sang some hits from the 1970’s. “Cherish” by Kool and the Gang.  “Native New Yorker” from Odyssey.  1980’s and a beautiful song from Sade “Smooth Operator” and a more recent hit from Bryan Adams “You belong to me”.  This was liberating and dare I say it, I enjoyed singing again.

I bought myself a new guitar book which has a range of songs within it.  I printed off some other songs from the internet which just happen to be Country…it would appear I can’t leave Country Music alone.  However, I am sitting a strumming this week for half an hour a day, the chords are returning and the tops of my fingers really hurt again as they harden up with the pushing down on the strings. (I have an acoustic guitar which has metal strings).

I returned to the choir recently although I sat in the back row and didn’t really sing out as my voice is still stressed, it will return in time.  I have lost a lot of confidence.  I know myself I am not the woman I was; confident, independent, fearless.  The trauma of the year so far has stripped me of me.  My confidence has been bolstered though when I looked at my You Tube channel Dawn Maxwell Music and seen that there has been a lot of activity recently with people watching/listening to the few videos I have on there. That made me happy.

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The new Guitar book. Some are way too advanced for me yet but looking through the book I can see quite a few that I do know the chords so I will have a go at those and yes, there are a few country songs in there!

I have been told by many people that if you are into your music, then the music will help you heal.  I’m beginning to think they are right.  If I take it slowly, not push myself, stay away from the songs that break my heart for now, maybe, just maybe it is time for the show to go on.

With love, sparkles and country music xx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Kylie means Sparkle!

Following on from the evening with the Home Free guys, I went to see Kylie.  I knew we were in for a sparkling show, there was sparkle everywhere…hats, t-shirts, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, face painting, I was soooooo underdressed.  Himself has been a huge fan of Kylie for a long time and I really like her music, especially as on her last album she went Country. When I go out.

It was a great concert, huge disco balls, great dancing, fantastic singing, wonderful stage settings and it was like one amazing party.  It was fabulous to be there to see such a global sparkling star as Kylie.  I always feel a little sad that she hasn’t found her soulmate, if the media is to be believed she has been let down in love.  I suppose you can’t have everything.

As usual, a few pictures and some quick video’s from the night, I wasn’t too close but I hope you get the idea of how the arena became a disco party.

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This is Resorts World just outside of Birmingham, next to the arena which I believe has changed it’s name yet again, now known as Resorts World Arena.  Resorts World is full of bars, restaurants, shops, cinema and a casino.  I haven’t visited there yet but it just looked so lovely on a clear moonlight night as we walked from the car park to the arena to see Kylie.

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