Introversion in Performing Artists
UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 24: ROYAL ALBERT HALL Photo of Jimi HENDRIX, performing live onstage (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

Introversion in Performing Artists

There are many juxtapositions in life. If you follow the belief that life is about balance, yin and yang, good vs. evil, sin and redemption, karma, then it would make sense that life is full of seemingly ironic pairings. One of my favorites of these is the contrast between the outward prominence of musicians’ personas stage, and their contrasting introverted personalities. Famous performers with strong stage presences such as Michael Jackson, Lana del Rey, David Bowie, Bjork, and Amy Winehouse were often introverts in nature.

“Jimi was always introverted. My dad didn’t like him playing music, and that hurt his feelings,” Leon Hendrix said in a Rolling Stones interview. “He went inside with his art and music.” One researcher, Anthony Kemp, in a study on the personalities of musicians, concluded “that there exists a common core of personality traits that characterize the musician in all spheres- introversion, pathemia (sensitivity and imagination), and intelligence.” Many musicians outside of the pop realm are renowned for their introversion as well. Beethoven was a textbook introvert, a stark contrast from the audacity and complexity of his powerful compositions.

To me, this discord between persona and outward appearance to the public eye and transfer to music writing seems incredibly fitting. For pop stars, it seems to be either a shift to introversion from the constant being in presence of others or an innate attribute that has allowed them to explore the depths of their musicianship in their times alone. There’s such a personal side to music for every artist, regardless of one’s opinion on the end content.

The term ‘introvert’ is characterized in the way someone energizes themselves. Extraverts tend to get their energy from being around other people. Introverts get their energy from being alone and having time to themselves. This is not to say they’re antisocial or shy necessarily, but rather that after socializing or being in public settings for long periods of time, they need a “recharge” time. For performers and musicians constantly being subjected to the public and consistently booked with events and meetings to continue their careers in whichever directions they choose, the development of an introverted personality or enhancement of one is not unlikely.

Another component to introversion is the usual introspection that is paired alongside with it. Artists like Kurt Cobain and Adele have often gone through moments of reflections and “pauses” away from the stage to reflect on themselves or maybe the more pressing matters in their lives such as family or addiction.

In the end, introversion is more a tool to success for those who have something within themselves and their music that needs to be properly harnessed and expressed.

Victoria Traxler

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