Watch Megan Washington's emotional Tedx talk

At the end of last month, Megan Washington appeared at the Tedx conference in Sydney. Sounds standard on paper — popular singer appears at popular public-speaking event. But that wasn't quite the case: in a recently posted video of her talk, an emotional Washington reveals how a life-long stutter instilled in her a great fear of public-speaking, and led to her being the kind of singer she is today.

“It might seem curious given that I spend a lot of my life on the stage, one would assume that I am comfortable in the public sphere and comfortable here talking to you guys," Washington explained (via FasterLouder). "But the truth is that I have spent my life up until this point and including this point living in mortal dread of public speaking”.

She goes on. "People think I'm drunk all the time. People think I've forgotten their name when I hesitate before saying it."

Washington talks about how she developed a loophole method of speech, where she would change what she was about to say at the last minute; avoiding pronouns as well as Ss and Ts, which she describes as her "kryptonite".

The singer explains she participated in treatment using a type of therapy called smooth speech, which develops a sing-song way of speaking as a means to move through a phrase, but which can often sound inauthentic to the listener. This, she explains, contributed to the development of the kind of artist she is today.

As an artist who feels that their work is based solely on a platform of honesty and being real, that feels often like cheating. Which is why before I sing, I wanted to tell you what singing means to me. 

It's more than making nice sounds and it's more than making nice songs. It's more than feeling known or understood. It's more than making you feel the thing's that I feel. It's not about mythology or mythologising myself to you. Somehow, through some miraculous synaptic function of the human brain, it's impossible to stutter when you sing.

And when I was younger that was a method of treatment that worked very well for me. I did it a lot. And that's why I'm here today. Singing for me is sweet relief. It's the only time for me when I feel fluent.

She finishes the talk with a solo version of her new song ‘To Or Not Let Go’, the second single from her forthcoming album, the follow up to 2011's I Believe You Liar.

Watch the entire clip below:

Watch Washington lead her band through a recent in-studio live cover of Future Island's recent single 'Seasons (Waiting On You)' below.

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1 comments so far..

  • Grumpy Typewriter's avatar
    Grumpy Typewriter
    Date and time
    Friday 23 May 2014 - 1:23 PM
    I know *exactly* what that is like.

    I saw Megan Washington being filmed during the short lived Working Dog show about celebrities and their family photos. I immediately recognised the hallmarks of smooth speech such as I completed in the mid-1980s. My personal coping mechanisms have become such second nature I barely realise anymore. One thing I can credit stuttering for broadening my vocabulary as a teenager; being trapped in those terrible moments when you just have to find another word.

    After the movie "The King's Speech" I saw a doco called "The Kid's Speech". It was about a centre for stuttering Michael Palin set up in the UK. They teach smooth speech in a condensed two week live-in arrangement with the children's parents. At one point about half way through I sat on the couch and tears were falling out of my eyes. There was a little boy who really liked dinosaurs – it was basically like watching myself as a child. He liked dinosaurs, whereas I played music (piano). My wife asked what was wrong, I tried to explain but she didn't get it.

    The pisser is with stuttering I can't predict it and it never completely goes away. Generally speaking, I do alright but just when I think I'm ok The Universe lets me know I'm not in control. I've blown two (really important) interviews because I just couldn't get a word out. For one, in the end I managed to say "I just don't think there's any point to continuing this" and left after 15 minutes. To not be in complete control of my own self-expression I find debilitating.

    My personal kryptonite is the letter "L".
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