I am a singer.
I grew up in a singing family.
I sang in church choir and school musicals.
I participated in our family's hokey holiday skits.
I embraced singing as a career.
I am a singer, because I am.
The truth is I never felt like I fit in. I'm one of those introverts, who appears extroverted. Over-doing things to feel a part of the group. I feel awkward in social situations. I love people, but I know I need to recharge with a good book or a Netflix series at the end of the day. The funny thing is that being in front of an audience, you would think an introvert would be terrified, but it's the safest and most authentic experience for me. My energy mixing with the intimate energy of the audience is like a one on one encounter. The rehearsal process is always a struggle. It involves a lot of people, a lot of judgement from myself and others. I just want to get as quickly as possible to the performance zone, when the world falls away and I am one with my character and the audience. The magical energy in the air when the paper snow would brush against my cheek during Mimi's "Donde Lieta", when I was raising a champagne bottle as Violetta, or hugging the Commendatore's shoes in the fetal position, singing "Non mi dir". I love the moments when an audience member would tell me how that evening's performance helped them to escape a little and get lost in another world for a few hours. It is the best gift that I can think to give. I long for the time when I will be back in a packed venue. In my happy place.
When the pandemic hit, I was one day away from a Premiere.
Our cast worked meticulously for six weeks on Baroque precise movements and musical ornamentation and we had a gorgeous dress rehearsal and then, that was it. No audience to share all of our work. No magical happy place. It was a huge letdown and a time of uncertainty for all of us.
I was floundering to get to that complete feeling again. I tried my best to rally for my family. I was searching for a way to find motivation and purpose.
So to stay positive, I focused my frustrations into creating opportunity for others. I am so fortunate to have found that coaching, consulting, and hosting masterclasses gives me the same rush of adrenaline as being on the stage. I love that I am helping singers to make their special contribution in the classical music field. I found another happy place, that I didn't know existed for me. I am glowing the day after our masterclasses, so proud of the singers, who after sharing their struggles, show up and perform some amazingly challenging repertoire with a twinkle in their eyes. Just six months before, those same singers were searching, and to see them find and know exactly who they want to be as a singer is so fulfilling. It's not just about navigating through a career, but who we are in that career.
A week ago, our SoftlyLoud Crescendo Crew had a Songfest. Instead of our usual masterclass, led by one of our wonderful coaches or special guests, we came together to share without being critiqued. We were ourselves in the moment, flaws and all, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have experienced in a long time. I decided to sing too. I made my mistakes. I made my art, the best way I could with a backtrack. I joined in understanding the challenges singers have finding the right backtrack and rehearsing with it, so that it becomes natural. Singers have to work twice as hard right now to show up on Zoom auditions and record their video content. I share my utter admiration for their efforts. Singers have become technology warriors.
I am fortunate that I am working with such motivated and inspiring singers.
Those who got off the hamster wheel of applying for auditions and young artist programs and didn't adapt to the online methods may not come back.
Those who found purpose and love for some other aspects of their talents will focus on making a living in these new or rediscovered ways.
Those who doubled down to open up and share what they uniquely can bring to the arts are making themselves visible.
Those who wouldn't have normally had the time in their busy performing schedules are passing on their wisdom in voice lessons, continuing education programs, and the business of singing programs.
People are connecting over the internet, who may not have had the opportunity or bravery.
Musicians are finding their voice. Feeling the urge to empower themselves in a time of helplessness.
We are isolated and yet never so exposed.
We are emboldened in our bravery.
We are growing closer in our community, over great geographical distances.
But what if we didn't wait for the validation of a job, a role, or record contract to define who we are. We will share our own narrative. Share songs, cabaret, opera, and original compositions we love. What feeds our souls will feed others. We are singers, not because someone hired and paid us, but because we just are.