Hitting The Right High-On-Me Note
By Heidi Mae Bratt Published in The New York Post, A Post Plus Section, New York Woman "Life In The City" on Tuesday, January 7, 1997

NY PostClad in a metallic mini, body-hugging silver shirt and go-go boots, “serious architect” Leslie McBride could barely recognize herself.Grabbing the mike, she vamped her way through Bonnie Rait’s suggestive “Something to Talk About” to an audience that lapped up every flirtatious roll of her shoulder. Waiting for the applause to quell, McBride signed, “I’ve done a flip.”Linda Amiel Burns, New York’s unofficial singing Svengali, wasn’t at all surprised.

After attending her “chutzpah” workshop, nearly all the performers are transformed: They come in like a mouse, and out like Madonna.

“The first night they’re all hiding under their chairs,” says Amiel Burns, director of The Singing Experience, a six-session workshop that teaches confidence through singing.Amiel Burns started the workshop some 20 years ago to boost her own self-esteem after a divorce left her feeling lousy and with two kids to support.But why singing? “Everybody’s voice, like their fingerprint, is unique,” explains Burns, who was a child performer. “They learn their voice is important in the world and people can love and applaud you.”

And each workshop, which cost $350 ($325 repeaters rate) and draws about 60 percent women, caps with a cabaret performance on a real New York stage. (The affirming audience is packed with family, friends and workshop graduates).

For McBride, the workshop has translated into a greater sense of self-esteem and confidence in her dealings as an architect with clients and contractors.”Getting on stage and doing it definitely helps you get more confidence,” McBride says. “I’m less afraid to assert my opinions and less afraid of being rejected.”Carmen Dunn, a patternmaker who has taken 18 workshop says, “Every time I gain a little more confidence. Not just in singing, but in life.”

Everybody’s got their reason for coming.

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