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Artist Profiles

Ren

By Published: October 22, 2003

"Ever since then, I have trusted in my own gut, though with each decision I make I am faced with the same frightening visions of failure and "can’t do it" in my mind, often up to the point where I am in the midst of doing the very thing I am so afraid of doing! When I move through the fear (I can never seem to leave it behind) and follow through on my intuition to do what feels right, those failures never happen. Then all my ensuing efforts seem nearly effortless and I become like a migrating bird that finds its air current and now flaps its wings only one third the amount of time necessary to get where it instinctively knows it wants to go."


"Certainly there are obstacles and challenges and surprises, but they don’t feel like failures to me when I know I’ve done the right thing for me."


"So, it has been four years and I just cannot believe how far I’ve come. It seems like a lifetime ago, so much has happened - things I never dreamed of. Most of the time I feel like I’ve just stepped into great big piles of happiness and that I’m tracking it wherever I go. As an interesting aside, remember all those radio stations I was sending my first CD to? I found out after I started touring two years ago that many of those stations were playing the CD all along. I’d go to a city for a gig and have an interview at one of the stations and they’d show me the copy of Renaissance. I shake my head in sad amusement when I think of how little I trusted myself, how negatively I viewed things."


"I didn’t have a plan back then and I don’t have one now. For me, it seems to be plan enough to really listen to my instincts and, after considering all the possibilities, do what feels right for me. Not what feels comfortable, but what feels right - there’s a huge difference between the two. Because if I follow through on what feels right then the next several steps are already waiting for me. I didn’t know this going in. But I know it now."


It just takes knowing when you’ve had enough


These are not the only lessons René Marie has learned in the past four years. Like many singers before her - and many of her contemporaries today - she endured treatment handed out as though she were a second-class citizen. But she had had enough and, like too few singers before her, the time came when René did something about it.


"When I first started singing, I thought the romantic myth of "paying your dues" meant being mistreated or taken advantage of by club owners, managers, even fellow musicians. Thought I didn’t have much of a choice or voice in the matter of the kind of sound I wanted, where the band was set up in the venue, how much I was gonna get paid, etc. There was this implied thought that I should be grateful for anything that came my way. But as I became more knowledgeable about how the "venue" owners, managers and waitrons think (making money is #1) I decided I wasn’t as powerless as I had led myself to believe."


"I decided that, yes, these owners have businesses to maintain, but SO DO I. Maybe there’s something about coming into the business at the ripe old age of forty, but there were certain things I just wouldn’t put up with once I saw how things worked. I decided that I ain’t no teenager, no star-struck twenty-something with big dreams, I ain’t married to none of ‘em and I don’t have to take being treated like a necessary evil, relegated to the back rooms of their thinking and consideration. Why should such a potentially wonderful musical experience be marred by hassles in venues about noise from the customers and from the bartender? To quote Charles Mingus, " Isaac Stern (a famous classical violinist and contemporary of Mingus’) doesn’t have to put up with that shit." I would rather entertain in my own living room at home than put up with all that crap. Again, could be my age. But all I know is that slowly, little by little, I stopped tolerating it. And here’s how I did it."


Three years ago


"I was singing in a restaurant and the band (as usual) was right beside the bar that had a TV. The sound was turned down, but there was a football game on. Right in the middle of a ballad, a touchdown was scored and a table of ten folks - sitting right in front of the band, of course - jumped out of their seats, yelling and doing the wave."



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