My favorite concerts make me want to rush home, grab my guitar, and practice into the night—until I’m so tired I just can’t hold the instrument anymore.

I get the most inspiration from performers who give their all on stage, yet never seem to burn out or become jaded. I seek out these experiences, because when I am inspired, I become a better performer. I am hungry for those “wow” moments. They feed my own muse.

Here are a few memorable concert-going memories from my scrapbooks. What are yours?
How can you tap into the muse, and “wow” your fans like the great performers do?


Melissa Etheridge, 2010 (rock)

After recovering from breast cancer, the bluesy rocker put out one of her strongest albums, Fearless Love, in 2010 and the supporting tour was astonishingly good.

Inspiration: Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge

There was no opening act–she played for nearly 3 hours with no break. Working with a simple stage setup and tight backing band, she blazed through three sets and three encores, focusing heavily on her newer work early in the show and moving toward fan favorites as the night progressed. Exuberant. Brassy. Thriving.

Cassandra Wilson, 1997 (jazz)

Wilson’s voice is rich and husky—she is rumored to smoke cigarettes strategically to maintain her low range and keep a raspy tone. She had recently collaborated with pianist Jacky Terrasson on an album of jazz standards called Rendezvous, and the two enjoyed amazing chemistry on stage.

Inspiration: Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson

Their dialogue was both musical and spiritual, funny and fierce. I have always wanted to find a duo partner with whom to experience the magic of mutual music-making; these two showed the way. Quiet grace. Cool jams. Classy.


Chris Nomura, 1995 (classical)

The internationally acclaimed baritone offered an intimate presentation of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin in an art museum’s recital hall. I was enthralled; his confidence was contagious.

Inspiration: Chris Nomura

Chris Nomura

He seemed wholly at ease with every moment of the concert, from walking on stage through to his final bow. Nomura handled the difficult German diction expertly, though it was not his native language. He told more of the story with his face and body than with the text, which was printed in both German and English in the recital program booklet. It was not necessary, however, to read along in order to be moved by this performance. Masterful. Elegant. Evocative.

Be inspired–be an inspiration

Revisiting these memories brings me emotion and energy, just as the original concerts did. In the coming year, commit to seeking out artists and events that feed your muse–the ones who originally led you to do what you do.

Make extra effort to watch and listen to new, unfamiliar, or under-appreciated performers. You may find a favorite, or learn more about what NOT to do.

In either case, you win.