Thursday, January 30, 2014

Letting Go

Every person who spends over a decade perfecting an art has a dream. Whether or not they want to admit it, every painter, every writer, every singer, every dancer and every actor would love to spend all day at their craft and be handsomely rewarded for it. If you have ever watched a talent show, such as The Voice, America's Got Talent or American Idol, you have seen the amount of talent in the world that is unrewarded. Only a select few can really put food on their table solely through the money earned through their art. This is a reality we all know at the core of our hearts, but few of us want to admit.

During the past 6 years that I've been singing professionally after having not sung at all for 7 years, I've been through a lot of transformations. There was a time when I didn't think I was worthy of getting paid for singing and that I should give it up and never open my mouth again. I started to get hired for things...little things and actual good things with great ensembles and big names. I got good reviews. Over the past 16 months, I've felt really great about the work I've done vocally. I am a professional singer and I can say with confidence, that I'm not bad. I'm actually quite good and I'm proud at what I've accomplished.

That being said, I'm all over the place. I have spread myself so thin with all of my hobbies and pursuits that I have not been able to put 100% of my effort into any one thing. I'm teaching here, I'm singing there, I'm organizing here, I'm selling there. Aside from work, there are all of those other things in life like eating, being a friend, love, living and basically trying to enjoy your life. Some people are content to be a Starving Artist. I have decided about three weeks ago, that I am not one of those people.

I want to be able to buy frivolous items, go on vacations and go out to fancy dinners more than I want to excel at my art...and that's okay.

At one point in my life, I may have looked at this crossroads as one path being failure and the other path being a valiant artist, but I really don't think that it is either of those things. There is no failure in wanting to live a certain lifestyle and making sacrifices to get there, as much as there isn't necessarily valor in eating ramen noodles every night and working 6 different jobs so that you can go on thousands of auditions. They are simply paths to be taken. There is neither shame or valor in either one.

Over the last few weeks, I have been struggling with the realization that I cannot "Live The Dream" anymore. I have been grieving as though someone close to me had passed away. I am spending a lot of time struggling financially, going to job to job and losing track of my schedule. I lead an interesting and fascinating life and it is so satisfying and amazing when someone hands me a check for singing. It's actually unbelievable to me. But it is no longer enough for me. Giving up music as a "career" is not a failure when you haven't actually failed. The failure would have been all of those years spent at my office job, passing the time, wondering if I had any talent at all. That would have been the ultimate failure.

Letting go has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. And letting go doesn't mean abandoning my art. In fact, I am more in love with music than ever. I've done great work. I am still a very hire-able soprano. I still am working to perfect my technique. I will still audition. But it is not going to be my primary career, and I'm okay with that. Letting go has made it possible for me to sing more freely. I am not critical of every single sound that leaves my throat, I'm grateful I'm able to produce it. I still have gigs to do and recitals to program, but not depending on these things for my income is freeing. To have music in my life be the sweet dessert instead of being the entree makes singing all the more delicious.

My life has been such an adventure. Here's where one chapter ends, but let's turn the page. I can't wait to see what happens next.


  1. Like you've mentioned, so many people have a beautiful talent that they will never be able to pursue because they cannot live off of it. You've been lucky that you've had an opportunity to do that - and that you can continue to do that, though it may not be a primary source of income for you. I think you're still as passionate, but being realistic about what you want out of your life and what you need to do to achieve it. Today is Chinese New Year, so what better time to turn the page to a new chapter and start fresh.

  2. Kay, this is so well-expressed and profoundly considered. I love what you say about being able to enjoy performing without the stress of wondering where the next cheque will come from. It must feel liberating to be able to make this clearheaded decision. Bravo, and keep singing for the love. Darn it, now I have that song from Frozen in my head...

    1. Aw, and my word verification was 'gospel'!

  3. Thank you for these comments and taking the time to even read this post! :)