Mindi Abair: Defining the ‘It’ Factor
"That's a great step towards being successful on stage," Abair continues. "You know when someone is just up there making money. You know when someone is faking it and when they are not."
Two performers whose stage presence Abair particularly admires are Bruce Springsteen and Prince. "Just look at Bruce Springsteen, you knew he meant it. You knew he meant every note. Every syllable he would die for. The same with someone like Prince. He didn't get up there just because he wanted to make a few bucks. He needed to be up there, he needed to tell you what was in his songs and he was going to hop up on pianos and run across the stage and almost cry telling you these stories. It's just fantastic."
Of all the venues, why did Abair choose Madison Square Garden as the one worthy of the book title? "I think as a performer, Madison Square Garden just has this mystical quality. When my friends and I used to talk about what venue we most dreamed about playing, it was Madison Square Garden. All the rock and roll bands that I loved, you just knew when they were playing Madison Square Garden it was just going to be a better show. Madison Square Gardenthat was the show you wanted to be at. You were in the middle of New York City and you were in the middle of it all. That was the place that I grew up thinking, 'I want to make it there!' Carnegie Hall? Yeah, I want to play there, but not as much as Madison Square Garden. The place has been there forever and everyone has played there. The ghosts of them are still onstage with you."
So has Abair ever had the opportunity to play there herself? "I got to play there, probably in the year 2000, with Mandy Moore. It was just unbelievable. I had put together Mandy's original band, but then had to go back on the road with the Backstreet Boys. At this point I was off the road with the Backstreet Boys and my friends, who I had given over the reins of Mandy's band, hired me back. We all got to play Madison Square Garden together.
"They don't have a huge sign outside advertising Madison Square Garden, so we got down on the floor and took turns taking pictures of each other with the Madison Square Garden sign," Abair continues. "I have this picture of me with bright cherry pink/red hair. The experience was huge, it was absolutely huge. And, hopefully, I'll get to do it again."
How to Play Madison Square Garden turns musical performance into a science. Abair discusses every aspect of stage performance, from how to develop your look before stepping on the stage to how to garner that always coveted standing ovation. "The important thing for the performer to note is that the standing ovation is most likely not the result of excellent technical execution. It is almost always the result of having developed a great relationship with the audience, in addition to a solid performance."
How to Play Madison Square Garden is an obvious choice for any aspiring musician or anyone else in a creative field. However, for those who don't dream of playing onstage, there is still a lot of valuable information in the book that pertains to everyday life. Everyone still wants to be able to light up a room when he or she enters it and exude confidence while showcasing one's talents, whatever they may be. So even if your next "gig" is center stage at the company board meeting, or you are being handed the mike at your best friend's wedding, or for you, perhaps being under the spotlight means on your blind date's front porch, the book offers practical, valuable advice to avoid stage fright at any level. Abair's experience and advice teaches how to shine in your own life, from developing your look, to knowing your audience, to developing the all-important "It" factor. We all have heard that "you only get one chance to make a first impression." How to Play Madison Square Garden tells you, step-by-step how to make the most of that opportunity.
Keb' Mo,' The Reflection (Yolabelle International, 2011)
Mindi Abair, In Hi-Fi Stereo (Heads Up, 2010)
Mindi Abair, Stars (Peak, 2008)
Mindi Abair, Life Less Ordinary (GRP, 2006)
Mindi Abair, Come As You Are (GRP, 2004)
Mindi Abair, It Just Happens That Way (GRP, 2003)
Mindi Abair, Always and Never the Same (Self Produced, 2000)
Page 3: Jeff Bender
All Other Photos: Courtesy of Mindi Abair