So, Fergie did her own, “unique” interpretation of the National Anthem, and it got a bit of attention, but not for the reasons I’m sure she wanted.

It was amazing to watch the virtual pile-on as people couldn’t wait to attack her on social media.

And while we all find a perverse pleasure in watching other people fail (it makes us feel better about ourselves) it does have a chilling effect.

As we make fun of artistic failures, we are creating a culture where artistic risk becomes less and less attractive.

Was Fergie’s rendition an instant classic like Whitney Houston’s, or a complete game-changer like Marvin Gaye’s?

Obviously, no.

But – she tried something out of the box, something that took risks, and something that failed.

But rather than appreciate the risk, and cheering her for trying something new, we collectively shame her.

Which makes the next artist think twice about taking risks.

And it might ultimately make you think twice as well.

This is a shame.

If a film doesn’t do big box office on opening weekend, it is derided as a failure.

If an album doesn’t sell as well as it’s predecessor? Failure again.

Fear of failure is crippling to us singers and artists, yet the punishment for failure becomes greater and greater.

There are rewards for taking risks, but the downsides seem ever more punishing these days.

Would Fergie have received this much attention if she had triumphed? No, I don’t believe so.

The tearing down of artists has become a national sport.

So why am I writing this?

Because I don’t want you to become afraid – the world needs your bravery as a singer, songwriter, artist, or educator.

When you see the static and noise of criticism, know that it should not and cannot dictate what you express – what you give the world needs to be an expression of your truth.

We want your fearless self – that’s what interests me.

Haters gonna hate anyways.


To Better Singing,

John Henny

P.S. I recently did a podcast that covers artistry and taking vocal risks that you might find interesting.  You can listen HERE.