Like most humans, I never pass up the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness.  I also think spending time with legends can offer life-altering, peak experiences for children. So, when we had the opportunity to invite the incredible Usha Uthup to do a masterclass with us at SaPa, we jumped at it.  

While listening to her share her half-a-century of performing experience with us, I realised her tips on stagecraft can be directly applied to life.  Here are some of my favourites:

Entertainment is Serious Business – 10 Guidelines from Usha Uthup

  1. Be Yourself – Be unashamedly, unabashedly, unequivocally yourself, because what’s the point in being someone else? And when you hear this from the OG sari-wearing, English-language-singing diva, you know it’s true.
  2. Be honest – On so many levels, it’s important to be honest.  Start with being honest to yourself.  Be honest to your audience.  It’s also a good practice to be honest to the world around you!
  3. Give it your all, every single time – When you’re on stage, every time is as important as the first time, so give it your best.
  4. Know your audience – Think about the people you’re performing for.  What would make them happy? How do you create the best possible experience?  
  5. When in doubt, opt out – This one felt really catchy but it took me a second to understand it.   Don’t unnecessarily put yourself in situations where you know only bad things can happen. Whether it’s starting a song at the wrong place or taking a decision you’re going to regret, just don’t do it.  Know your limitations.  
  6. Know what you’re good at – It’s good to know your weaknesses and limitations – but it’s always great to know what your superpowers are.  Play to your strengths.
  7. The singer is never bigger than the song – You’re one piece of the puzzle.  The audience, the musicians, the songs – all of these are important.  If you’re an artist, it’s your audience that lifts you up, so never look down on them.  
  8. Everybody feels fear – Next time you’re nervous, just remember that even legends who’ve been on stage for 51 years still feel jittery sometimes.  You’ll get over it. 
  9. If something doesn’t work, be open to change – Plan B never hurt anyone. (My Plan B, in case you’re wondering, is living off my doctor brother.)
  10. Be open to try new things – If Usha ji can bring nightclub charm to stadiums and now Zoom, we should all be open. 

In the last year, I feel like we’ve spent a lot of time trying new things – from baking our own bread to starting home hydroponics. So keep an open mind and see if you can use these lessons to tackle whatever else comes your way!

Note: Usha Uthup is offering a self-paced course, The Art of Stagecraft on the SaPa platform. Sign up here.