In this age where the prevailing mindset seems to be “Starting bigger is always better.” It is very important for upcoming artistes to see the opportunities in their little beginnings and not the threats that can stop them. Every established artiste was once an upcoming artiste, but the difference between those that succeeded and others that failed was their level of understanding. The biography of Teddy Pendergrass tells it all.
Teddy Pendergrass was an American singer. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he initially rose to musical fame as the lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. The success of Teddy Pendergrass musical career was not left to fate. While reading through his biography I noticed:
1. He performed in his locality
When you speak to most upcoming artiste, they highlight most of the things working to their disadvantage. They give reasons they would never perform in their locality (free event, churches, and programmes around them.) Most upcoming artistes put money first; so if you don’t pay them, they’re not ready to perform at your event. This most time works to their disadvantage because it denies them the opportunity to showcase their talent. If we are to take a lead from Pendergrass bio, you notice he started singing gospel music in Philadelphia churches, becoming an ordained minister at ten years old. As an upcoming artiste, start wherever you are planted. Start by singing in your street carnivals, churches, and other free events; it is a free opportunity to sharpen your skills and get you ready for stardom.
2. He built credibility through collaboration
One sure way to build credibility is to collaborate with a more established group or artiste. Yes, you can make it as a solo artiste but get there faster through collaboration. His group “The Cadillac’s” merged with a more established group – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, when Pendergrass was in his late 60’s. In 1970, when the Blue Notes broke up, Melvin, now aware of Pendergrass’ vocal prowess, asked him to take the lead singer spot. This was the time Pendergrass built his credibility; it was a landmark collaboration that led him to discover his place.
3. He seized opportunities
Starting small is not a problem; staying small is abnormal. As an artiste you should have a vision of where you want to be and it should be clearly written out. Pendergrass seized opportunities along his journey to stardom. It’s no secret that Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff wanted Marvin Junior of the Dells for their Philadelphia International Records roster. Since they were not available because they had signed to another record label, Pendergrass seized that opportunity. When the gruff’n’ready vocals of Pendergrass came approached Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, they eagerly signed the group. Upcoming artiste should be updated about the happenings in the industry and should be bold enough to seize opportunities where they present themselves.
4. He was decisive
Despite the revised billing of the group, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Theodore Pendergrass, Pendergrass felt he wasn’t getting enough recognition. He had a fall-out with Melvin Blue in 1976 which made him leave the group. Then he went solo; this decision saw him burst back on the scene with a platinum solo debut that included the top-notch singles “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” “You Can’t Hide from Yourself,” and “The More I Get the More I Want.” Around this time, Pendergrass instituted his infamous “Ladies Only” concerts. His next three albums went gold or platinum: Life Is a Song Worth Singing (1978), Teddy (1979), and Teddy Live (Coast to Coast). As an artiste there comes a time in life where you need to take certain decisions that will either make you or mar you. Your ability to take the right decision will be determined by how well you have known yourself.
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” – Socrates