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So you want to be a singer? Darlene Love has some advice for you

Elvis Costello and Darlene Love, right, perform in concert. Love takes the stage Saturday at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo.
Elvis Costello and Darlene Love, right, perform in concert. Love takes the stage Saturday at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo.

As a singer who’s spent more than half a century in front of a microphone, Darlene Love knows a thing or two about show business.

She recently shared her hard-earned wisdom with The Tribune. Here are some of her thoughts about how to make it in the music industry.

Q: What are some of the lessons you learned as a background singer?

A: I learned so much from all the people that I’ve worked with – Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, (Frank) Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr.

(I) learned something from each one of them – how to take care of business, how to carry yourself on stage, how to know your audience is with you. …

If you’re willing to learn, you never get old to learn. Take it from the big shots. They have an attitude about themselves when they walk on stage: “This is my stage. This is who I am.”

Q: Were you nervous about making the transition from background singer to star?

A: Most entertainers, when they first walk out on stage, they’re nervous … because they don’t think they belong out there. Are they going to remember their lyrics? Are (they) going to trip? Are (they) going to fall?

Once I realized that’s all a part of doing a live show (I felt better). That’s what people come to live shows for – to see the real you. …

I laugh a lot with my audience. I tell jokes. I tell life stories, things that have happened to me over a years. People love it. They get to see who I am. That indeed is taking control of the stage, my show.

It took a while. I was very uneasy about it at first. But you have to do it. If you’re not going to do it you’re never going to get used to doing it.

Q: What advice would you give to singers who are just starting out, and to folks who have been doing it for a while?

A: I never stopped working. I kept working, whether it was in a club with 20 people or it was in a theater with a thousand people. You have to keep working; that’s the only way you can hone your craft.

The longer you do it, the better you get at it. Now I enjoy it so. I have never once got out of my bed knowing I was going to work and said, “Oh no, I don’t want to do this today. I don’t want to go.”

Whenever I know I’m going to work, I’m ready to work. … When I get on the stage, I’m ready. I have prepared this day to get up and go to work and give my audience what I think they want.

Darlene Love

8 p.m. Saturday

Cohan Center, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

$28.80 to $66

805-756-4849 or www.calpolyarts.org

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