To become exemplary, an artist cannot imitate, cannot be a carbon copy of someone else. She must present that which is thoroughly unique – herself – and for this she needs to know herself and to continually grow herself.

A good singer builds herself a mental reference book. She excels in the art of seeing into someone else’s eye to glimpse the truth or a lie, or of hearing into someone else’s voice. Every artist can be inspired by another person, another artist. Every interpreter can have her models, but in the end our own signature must go on the work. We must become Creator and use everything that exists to make something new and to reveal a soul, an original soul. Can one learn to be observant if one hasn’t possessed this quality since childhood? Very definitely, yes!

There is no real art without understanding. It is our responsibility as artists to combine sensitivity with intelligence. Sensitivity enables us to beautify our work, but that can only happen if it is supported by knowledge. It is the job of the actor to present human truths artistically, but not in some kind of precise and mechanical mirroring process. If he shows an ugliness, he should show the beauty in that ugliness as well. The actor is not a photographer but a painter and must derive his inspiration from the myriad sources around him. So it is for the singer, who paints a picture with each tone, word, and gesture.


About Karen Kohler

Born in Frankfurt and raised in New York, Karen began her professional music career in Austin. Since returning to NYC in 2001, she has been a leading exponent of the cabaret arts as performer, director, producer and historian. Her performances blend multiple genres - classical, cabaret, jazz, blues and folk-rock - in six languages. She is founder of the award-winning ensemble, Kabarett Kollektif, and producer of Kabarett Fete, a celebrated international cabaret festival. Karen gives private lessons and conducts master classes in stagecraft, the art of public speaking and creativity coaching. View all posts by Karen Kohler

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