Interview with Mercy River
How do you overcome nervousness?
Brooke: I still get nervous for almost every performance we do. I think a lot of it comes with experience. But a big turning point for me was when I started to realize that my performance wasn't about me. It was about the audience. As soon as I turned my focus on them, and forgot myself, it became a little easier. Whitney: I’ve always struggled with stage fright. But 5 years ago a good friend shared a scripture that has REALLY helped me (paraphrased, of course). 2 Ne 33:4-- "And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my [performance] for the gain of [His] people. And the words which I have [sung] in weakness will be made strong unto them; for [they] persuadeth them to do good...and [they] speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him.” I think of this every time I sing, and realize that even if it isn’t perfect, if my heart is in the right place and the Holy Ghost is with me, the right message and feelings will be communicated. Soni: I don't think I have overcome nervousness, and probably never will. That’s one I just have to pray for help and rely on the Lord to help me think about my audience and what they need instead of being self conscious on stage.
How do you gain confidence as a performer?
Brooke: Ha! I've never felt so inadequate! I think it boils down to three things-experience, getting back up after each failure, and again, focusing on the audience. Whitney: To be honest, I gain confidence through Brooke and Soni. We joke that someone always has to be the “Big Sister.” If two of us are nervous, the third has to step in and be brave for all of us. When I feel humiliated or anxious or afraid, one of them will step in and lift me up. Soni: Practice hard!
How do you get ready for a performance?
Brooke: Rehearsals and PRAYER Whitney: We put a lot of time, thought, heart, and prayer into EACH performance. Soni: Pray a lot and practice hard
How do you practice?
Brooke: We rehearse as a group 1-2 times a week when a performance is coming up. I also sing quite a bit in the car...much to the dismay of my kids. Whitney: We all live 90 min apart, so we have to meet in the middle to rehearse. Most of the time we have our kids with us, so we bring snacks and toys and videos...and we nurse, change diapers, bounce babies, and kiss owies WHILE we practice. Some rehearsals are more effective than others (!) but we trust that the Lord will step in--take all we can give--and make it enough. Soni: In my car, that is where all of my personal practicing gets done, because my kids are buckled in and can't get into too much trouble.
How do you choose wardrobe?
Brooke: Ummm...trial and error. We always tell people this is the hardest part of Mercy River. Again, experience has helped us with this. I get a kick out of our first performance "costumes.” We also get a lot of help from Kristi at Karma Boutique on Main (in Pleasant Grove, UT). She’s a lifesaver!! Whitney: I have zero fashion sense, so Brooke and Soni figure it out and I just nod. (To be honest, many of the things I wear on stage are borrowed from Brooke’s closet.) We usually start with one piece and go from there. But it is always a challenge because our bodies are always changing--we have to work around pregnancy and baby weight and all that. Soni: I just let Brooke do that
What is a favorite performance experience?
Brooke: For me, it was Layton's Time Out For Women (in Feb 2012). We had just finished recording our 3rd album, and had to jump right into rehearsing for TOFW. It was exhausting and I thought there was no way we could pull it off. Plus, I'm from Layton, so the thought of failing in front of hundreds of people I KNEW was so scary. We prayed and fasted our little hearts out. ("Heavenly Father, I don't think I can live with another humiliating performance!") When it came time to perform, I felt the spirit blessing us. Being on stage felt so comfortable, we remembered our speaking parts and our songs sounded on. It was such a humbling experience. Whitney: There are so many....There was the girls camp in Utah when we got a flat tire (all of us pregnant at the time). There was the performance in Orlando when Soni lost her voice--and got an amazing blessing from Michael Wilcox. There was the Stake Youth Conference in Canada where we made lifelong friends. There was the benefit concert in Idaho for a brave young mother with breast cancer. I could go on....! Soni: TOFW Boise 2010 I was 9 months prego due any day. I just remember it being such a fun day, I couldn't sing the greatest but it was a good performance. Then we got on the plane that night to go home, as soon as I got home I went to bed exhausted, 6 hours later I woke up in labor! A couple hours later went to the hospital and my baby was born.....perfect timing :)