See the Whole Beauty Picture
As a singer and songwriter, I work a lot in front of audiences. I never really know how I'm coming across visually, but when I'm feeling strong and confident, and when I'm singing well, I feel like I'm giving the audience something beautiful. That's at least, my goal. It's an inner beauty and strength, the kind you give to others that counts. I get compliments on my looks, but I think it's partly because of those other factors that I try to cultivate, like keeping healthy, getting rest and staying centered. All of it allows me to approach each day and each situation with confidence.
Doing what I do, I've learned a lot about how to summon all my positives and get everything working at once in order to rise to the occasion and hopefully be able to inspire another person. It's the same with friends and loved ones. If you've worked on yourself and have taken care of yourself, that's when you have something to give to the people you love.
For the past couple of years, I've been fortunate enough to be on an extensive world tour with Leonard Cohen. Like many women who have a lot of responsibility and not a lot of time, I've had to learn how to focus on what's important when it comes to things like beauty and self-care. Some of the things I do to stay in shape are very simple and straight-forward, like I will do some yoga in my hotel room, try to eat mostly lean protein and vegetables, take walks, take vitamins and make sure I get enough sleep. Doing it all takes commitment and concentration. That's the hard part. You have to get a little selfish with your time in order to be who you want to be.
I feel really lucky to be a singer. Singing is very physical. You're using lots of muscles and transferring lots of air and oxygen. I can't help but think it enhances my appearance. But I think that everyone can find that thing in what they do that becomes an element of their beauty. From the physical demands of what we do to our intellectual pursuits and the use of the imagination, these can all become expressions of beauty. These are the things that put the light behind the eyes.
I think self-esteem is a major component of beauty, and it's a theme that has worked its way into my songwriting at times over the years. The songs I'm particularly proud of are, "The High Road," which is on my album Everybody Knows, a song about finding personal strength after a relationship, and "New Attitude" by Patti LaBelle, which hopes to inspire confidence in women as expressed in their appearance and demeanor. There's something undeniably true that when you get yourself looking how you want to feel, it definitely changes the attitude you project.
I think everyone seeks beauty in their lives in one form or another. They seek it in themselves and others, and in music, literature and art. It seems to be a basic human need. It's hard to define beauty, but I think we know it when we see it. For me, it doesn't necessarily exist only in the physical plane. As I travel around the world, I see a lot of very put-together women. A certain woman may walk into the room whose skin glows because she's taking care of herself physically, but what's more, her eyes have a glow and a relaxed confidence because she has achieved a certain amount of personal fulfillment. Or a woman who looks great because of her clothes and makeup, but you want to know her because she is manifesting the best version of herself and is open and confident because if it. This is the kind of beauty that doesn't come easy. It's something you have to work at. It's whole-picture beauty. It's the kind of beauty that is ultimately attainable by everyone.
Sometimes when I'm singing a song, I become one with the breath, the sound, the melody and the lyric, and everything comes together at once. It's like how I see beauty: a combination of many elements that each individual woman finds and nurtures in herself. A wholeness. An inspiring kind of beauty.
For more information on Sharon Robinson, please visit her website at SharonRobinsonMusic.com.
Watch Sharon and her mother discuss what they've learned from each other about beauty