It’s hard to believe Jason Singh was ever a wallflower. The multi-platinum award-winning artist and Taxiride frontman is a natural-born entertainer – it’s just not something he was tapped into from the get-go.
“I was a quiet kid and pretty shy. I generally didn’t get involved and tended to stand on the sidelines,” he said.
“When I was in primary school, one day on a whim I auditioned for a Rock Eisteddfod and I got a lead part.
“We made it to the finals, and as I was getting ready to walk onto the stage one of the guys who had helped set up said to me, ‘Go out there and kill it!’ I walked out, the crowd rose and I even now, I can remember how it felt … That’s the moment my addiction began.”
It’s the kind of motivation, confidence and inspiration he hopes to spark in young artists participating in his Music Mentors Program, which is headed to Anita’s Theatre along with his latest show Heaven’s Greatest Hits.
The invite has gone to the Illawarra’s music schools and primary and high schools with music programs, for any students looking for a behind-the-scenes meet and greet, practical firsthand advice from performers, hands-on experience and insights into the music industry.
“It’s a way to help young people wrap their heads around what it takes to put on a big show, and to make it in the music business,” Jason says.
“This is a tough industry to break into. But for all musicians there comes a moment in their life when they have to decide what they want to do with their lives.
“I’ve put on a lot of shows, and had a lot of success, and I want to inspire young people to go for it and make a name for themselves doing what they’re passionate about.”
The program is in no way prescriptive or structured – Jason and his Heaven’s Greatest Hits musicians simply open all doors.
“For the audience the concert may start at 8 pm but for the musician, it starts at 4 pm. That’s when we’re lighting in, running sound and monitor checks – all the back-end stuff. There’s a lot more to being a musician than playing – you have to pull your weight,” Jason says.
“We’ll walk the participants through the motions of setting up for a live show and be a sounding board for them as they discover what it’s really like.”
The young participants will see firsthand how the equipment is set up and speak to the musicians of their respective instruments, ask questions and maybe even try out the instruments.
“When you’re learning how to play your instrument you’re probably not necessarily thinking of those things,” Jason says.
“But actually experiencing it – what it’s like to be backstage, in the wings, or to walk out on a lit-up stage opens a window into where they could end up.”
A relatively new program, this will be the first time Music Mentors comes to the Illawarra, but it will follow Jason to every area he takes his shows.
The hope is that it’ll light fires in next generation bellies across the nation and inspire would-be musicians to roll up their sleeves.
“I’m a hustler, persistence got me where I am,” Jason says.
“My primary school teachers used to complain to my parents that I was ‘too persistent’. But that kind of trait is a boon when it comes to success in the real world, and particularly in the arts.
“You have to be tenacious, wake up every morning and be ready to grind, because that’s what it takes to make it.”
To enquire about the Music Mentors Program, contact Jason Singh via email by 14 August.