PART FOUR: THE OUTFIT
Tip #1: Dress with a purpose.
As a vocal performer, people are listening and watching. To be taken seriously, you need to look the part of a performer. Choose an outfit/look that would enhance your performance, not take away from it.
Or in other words, dress with a purpose.
Looking back, as a ballad crooner, I chose long dresses with a flawless bun and sparkly jewelry. I felt that look was perfect for the slow love songs I competed with, as I wanted to create a romantic, sometimes heartbreaking mood for my audience. The purpose of my look was not only to be presentable as a performer, but to also set a certain mood for my listeners to understand the dramatics of my performance.
Tip #2: No matter what event you’re performing at, dress up.
When the mayor comes to the Hmong New Year, s/he will likely be dressed in formal attire, indicating that s/he is an important individual that has a purpose within the celebration. You too are an important individual who has a purpose within the celebration. As a vocal contestant, dressing up is a requirement.
At sports festivals in the hot summers, most folks are not walking in high heels or strutting in their best formal attire - well, maybe a few. However, these individuals are here to be entertained and to relax from their daily lives.
You, on the other hand, as a singer, are there to entertain. It may feel odd for you ‘cause you’re all decked out and no one else is. But once you get on that stage, you’ll forget all that. (Your nerves will be sure to tell you what's most important.)
Know that after you get off stage, people will take you seriously and also show respect for you as a performer through clapping, bringing you flowers, cheering, and even standing up for you. Why? 'Cause they know you came prepared to perform by dressing up and singing your best.
Tip #3: Casual wear is out.
I’ve seen this more times than I can remember. As a viewer and a judge, it’s very hard to take a singer seriously if s/he is performing in casual wear (i.e. hoodie).
Casual wear leaves an impression on others that your performance is just that: casual, defined in the dictionary as “relaxed and unconcerned.” It looks more like a rehearsal than a grand performance.
Just imagine me performing, Nyob Ib Sab at the Hmong International New Year on their grand outdoor stage where people from all over the world are celebrating the Hmong New Year and here I am singing in a sweater and jeans that just happened to not be in the laundry that day. Not cool.
Appearance is an actual judging criteria on the score sheet. It's also the easiest points to earn, if you look your part.
Singers, no matter what, where, or when you’re going on stage, dress up.
I hope you enjoyed the final part of my How to Win a Hmong Singing Contest blog series and you gained one new thing as a singer. And as always, feel free to leave me a comment/question and good luck on your singing journey!
DISCLAIMER: The How to Win a Hmong Singing Contest blog series is a collection of Pagnia Xiong's personal experience with competing and judging for Hmong singing contests. It was first published in October 2013 and has since been updated with new insights & tips. Please note this blog series is simply a guide and any action whatsoever taken based on the contents of this website or any of its related sites, materials, products or information is to be used solely at your own discretion, risk and liability.