There are plenty of ways for kids to get into music, but ultimately you have to get on stage to take that big step if you want to perform. In the latest edition of Linkin Park’s “Notes” where the members share their lives with fans via the group’s mailing list, Mike Shinoda offers insight into his musical debut, revealing that a youth group helped him giving him the confidence he finally needed to pursue a career in music.
As Shinoda recounts, he was approached by the program’s musical theater director named Bruce about the possibility of having a role in the production of Joseph and the Incredible Technicolor Dream Coat.
“After the first group meeting on the show, Bruce pulled me aside privately,” Shinoda recalled. “‘Hey Mike,’ he said, ‘There are a lot of important roles to play on this show, and I want you to consider playing the Pharaoh.'”
The Linkin Park musician recalled, “My stomach turned. I didn’t want a solo. But even worse, Pharaoh’s number was a lighthearted, funny song in the style of Elvis. I had grown up listening to it. Public Enemy, and Chuck D was teaching “I can’t do this, I really don’t like Elvis.” He paused. “Do me a favor. Think about what we could do to make it work,” he told me. “We’ll talk about that next week.”
Shinoda said, “The next week, when the youth group meeting ended, I sat down with Bruce privately. ‘I have an idea,’ I said. ‘Will you let me change the song, remove the Elvis stuff and replace with a style of music that I like?’ I remember him smiling at me with a complicated look on his face that I didn’t understand. ‘OK, maybe… how would that work?’ he asked. I described the types of music I listened to: rap, funk and rock. I thought we could keep the “story” of the song, and maybe even make it funnier, but doing it like a rap song over a funk track.”
The Linkin Park musician says that looking back, he now realizes how much time it was going to cost Bruce to make this change, and that the director trusted him a lot, not really knowing if he could make it.
“We spent the next few months reworking the lyrics,” Shinoda explains. “He let me write a whole new track to play for the band. We designed a ridiculous 70s bell-bottomed Pharaoh outfit and stage set to complement the new style of the track. created in front of an audience, I felt confident on stage and proud of what I had helped to do.”
Now, as a multi-platinum artist who has continued beyond Linkin Park into a solo career, Shinoda says, “Looking back, it’s impossible that this experience didn’t have a huge impact on my confidence, not just for standing up in front of people, but my confidence coming up with an idea I believed in. It’s even possible that Linkin Park didn’t even exist, without this mentor who decided to trust me.
Shinoda concludes the reflection of his youth with a message of thanks, “Thank you, Bruce. I hope anyone else reading this makes the kind of bold and courageous decision you made. It made a big difference. “
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