On this episode, Tara and I discuss how to talk about hard subjects with your fans like race and gender issues and how to take a stand for what you believe in while weaving that into your branding and music.
Tara Priolo and I met on Clubhouse and we’ve been doing rooms together. She has some interesting experiences as far as learning to stand and talk about stuff that’s hard, especially on social media.
Tara is a voice teacher and opera singer turned brand coach. She’s also an activist and biracial soprano. She refers to herself as your resident white-facey multi-faceted musician.
She started in children’s choirs and her earliest musical memory is actually a negative one when she was four years old. She ran off the stage, forgot her words and was thinking “I’m gonna prove everybody wrong”. She grew up in children’s choirs from 7th grade to senior year. She was always in a leadership position and that’s when she started developing her leadership skills. In college, she first started in pre-med but then she had conflict between her labs and choir schedule so she decided to drop her pre-med. She then went to pursue music and dropping the education degree. Then she went to grad school for a vocal performance degree. She figured she really wanted to private teach. She auditioned for choirs and once again, took some leadership positions. She also applied for some small companies and likes to do a lot of recital work and concert work. She wanted to bring into the forefront the voices that are not heard, in terms of biracial composers.
I remember being in the Opera and being the only woman in the executive team. The men wanted to pick a certain woman according to her look and not really about their voice.
Tara’s experience is people not expecting a big voice like hers to come out of a person with such a small frame. Black people immediately recognize that she is biracial but white people don’t. She noticed that the industry seeks people based on the aesthetic as opposed to listening for the sound. She think it starts in Academia.
Tara is very proud that she has a studio that reflects all colors. She teaches a younger demographic, 16 to 24, and she does not tell them they’re soprano or alto and she allows them to discover their zone. She lets them come up with the goal and discover their voice.
Standing Your Truth in Social Media
Racial stuff is a very touchy topic. I did do so many wrong things during that time of George Floyd.
Tara always knew she was biracial. She looks exactly like her father and only got her mom’s white skin. She’s never going to deny that but she was mainly talking about it in her private circles. She then realized that her brand was all about authenticity and being true to yourself so she should put it out. So she started doing little stuff like “Hey, you should follow BIPOC creators apart from white creators.” Then George Floyd was murdered and she realized she should talk about it. You have to be uncomfortable or otherwise, you’re not going to make it. Because she has whiter color, she can be a gateway for the darker colors. On her Instagram, when she talks about the hard stuff, she avoids being nice afterward because that is going to make people feel comfortable.
How Tara Deals With Negative Comments
Tara saw that the more she talks about hard topics, the less negative comments she gets. Being called a racist or other names is better than the persecution that they face, which is death. People with melanated skin are literally being killed but white people are not being killed for their skin color, they are being called racist or sexist. They’re just being called a name. She doesn’t really get negative comments but some that are centering of whiteness disguised as concerned. Centering means white people focusing on their own emotion before thinking of the emotion of the people of color. Take yourself out of the equation and do not be offended that someone has called you out.
When you are called out by a BIPOC person, it’s not in anger for the most part, it’s meant for you to recognize and give you the opportunity to apologize and right that wrong. The goal is to demolish the lowest rank, those that experience aggression at the highest rate, which is the most melanated people, the transgender people and non-binary people, as well as fully disabled people. We are trying to lift them up so the whole system falls down. The comment from a black person that offended you, you should be thankful, because they are disrupting your thought patterns in order for you to decenter your whiteness in order for you to help them dismantle the pattern. Reading a book does not make a white person an ally, but it’s up to the melanated people to decide. If you don’t speak up, you are complacent. If you don’t know what to say, you can start by sharing what BIPOC people say.
How Can Musicians Integrate This Topic With Their Brand
You do not need to create an extra Instagram or social media account. Tara went from posting only voice coaching on her IG and then eventually posted about everything including racism and activism. The reason that people are scared to talk about those topics is somebody told you it was scary topic. Share it with your current audience because somebody is always going to listen. There is one person who is caused to think differently. You don’t need to change your whole life, just say what you need to say in your music. If your pillars are honesty and authenticity, you can share these related to that. Even if they don’t engage, they’re listening. Go ahead and do it. They just need space. The only thing you can account for is what your doing, not their reaction.
Find Tara Priolo Studio on Instagram and Facebook. She is on Clubhouse as Tara P. You can also find her on her website at www.tarapriolo.com.
I hope you all follow her and hang out with us on Clubhouse. Start trying things and if you screw up, DM someone who is melanated. You can also go to BIPOC accounts and share what they are sharing.