Joanna Eden, UK based jazz artist and vocal coach (Sam Smith), has posted an extraordinary apology on Facebook after appearing as a judge on BBC One’s singing show All Together Now.
In the lengthy piece, Eden explains why she regrets taking part in the show and questions society’s fascination with singing contests and “perfect vocals”.
Eden admits she took the gig after being seduced by the prospect of prime-time television exposure. She now wishes she’d turned it down.
She writes: “I believe humans have tainted this beautiful gift of song with judgement. We have taken what is given to us all for free and we have made it transactional.”
She adds that the judgemental nature of these shows leaves little room for individuality, imperfection or eccentricity. “How would Tom Waits score? Or Leonard Cohen, Billie Holliday, Bob Dylan, Kate Bush?”
Eden goes on to say: “Next time you hear someone sing, remember they are offering up their inner self. Before you judge, remember they are probably at their most vulnerable. If you hear something coarse or not to your taste, remember that judgement or ridicule will only serve to hurt. I deeply wish that all singing teachers were aware of the weight of responsibility they carry. Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone was encouraged to love and nurture their natural sound? If the human voice was prized for how it reflects our bodies, our souls, our stories? Humans are distinguished from machines by our flaws and idiosyncrasies. We can be flawed and yet beautiful. And so can the human voice!
“Please let’s stop judging. Let’s acknowledge that singing is a healing gift, for the singer and listener alike.
So I’m sorry for being a TV judge, (albeit a pretty ineffectual one as I found myself on my feet for nearly every singer!). And I’m sorry that I let my hunger to fast-track my career get the better of my conscience. I did myself a disservice and I feel I have given my own students mixed messages because I haven’t practised what I am preaching here.
“But worst of all, I have done my voice a disservice. It has given me so much: I sing every day; I write songs that heal me; I meet wonderful people, receive so much love, witness such beauty in musicians, students and in audiences alike. Last week I sang with a dying friend; it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. I knew then what the voice can do. We both transcended this world.”