I had finished a concert up in the Prescott area, my daddy conducting the way, and the concert consisted of Lerner & Lowe collections. I sang Gigi’s “Say A Prayer,” and My Fair Lady’s “Show Me,” “The Rain In Spain,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.” These songs are very easy for my voice type; I could roll out of bed and sing them.
Singing has been a huge part of my family’s lifestyle. I was born a singer, my genes a combination of my mother’s coluratura and my father’s powerful tenor (very much like Pavarotti’s). I already knew being a performer was something I couldn’t really avoid. I sing for my father every summer and, once in a while, do community musicals. Singing will always be apart of my life in some way or form.
With that said, this particular summer, I had come to an interesting revelation. More like I was lectured by another fellow opera singer named Isola Jones.
“What are you going to do in California?” she asked me.
“To start my career,” I responded. “Be an actor and also try to get an internship with IGN as a writer.”
Isola stared up at me with a dark look, then finally said, “You need to be singing.” The tone of her voice was not humorous.
Later that evening, after the concert was over and done with, and all of us performers sat around a table, drinking wine and beer, eating prime rib and filet mignon, singing songs like O Danny Boy and laughing the minutes away, Isola took me aside. I was, at the time, distracted by some cute boy who kept looking in my direction. He wasn’t a part of our group, rather he sat at a different table with his small group of friends. All four of them kept glancing at our table—a table full of performers who don’t mind causing a lot of attention.
As I was about to approach the table with the cute boy, Isola took my arm and pulled me away. I remember feeling a flash of disappointment as I knew I would miss my chance exchanging flirtatious conversation—a conversation I knew would really lead me absolutely nowhere, but I was addicted to the feeling it gave my stomach, a sort of excited, butterfly effect.
Then Isola, red wine in hand, looked me straight in the eye, her exotic appearance always striking and, if I didn’t know her any better, very intimidating. She said, “Darling, you’re a fabulous singer. You need to be singing.”
“I know,” I said. “I wasn’t planning on stopping—” She cut me off with a wave of her elegant finger.
“No, no,” she said, her voice smooth and luxurious. “You are at that perfect age where this can work for you. You’re young, you’re fabulous, you have the drive that most people struggle with. You have no ties, no relationships, no children, nothing—this is the time for you!”
“She’s right!” Michael Tully chimed in. Apparently, more people were listening in on this topic of choice. Michael was a friend of the family and a baritone. He originally wanted to be a performer, make it his career, but he chose a different path. Michael fell in love, got married, and realized that in order to have a healthy marriage, he needed to focus on his family rather than his career.
Isola offered to teach me coloratura repertoire until I ship off to California. She said it would at least give me another choice to choose from, another path to add to my many different paths. It dawned on me that Isola Jones, famous Metropolitan opera singer, who had sung all over the world, had so much faith in my ability to sing that kind of music, I decided to take her up on the offer. Call it a whim.
Opera was definitely a field I never thought myself capable of. It was also a field I didn’t want to even try to venture into, considering my dad had already been there and done that. I wanted to conquer a different area of performance.
But now, as I sit at my desk, scribbling my thoughts onto this virtual paper, and after practicing a few good hours of The Doll Aria, I’ve come to realize, ONE, I do have a coluratura voice, TWO, I can beat the shit out of this aria, and THREE, I have nothing to hold me back, to tie me down, to stress me out, to worry about, to compromise, to give up, let go, miss out. The world is my playground and I have nothing to lose. I can choose everything and nothing. Nothing can stop me because nothing is exactly what I own.
If you are an actor, singer, dancer, musician, composer, artist, this is the life we choose; that is, if we plan on being successful. And by successful, I simply mean the ability to pay your bills without needing a second job.
Juggling a family and a performance life is one of the most difficult things to do. When the singer is off in some other country, city, or state for months on end, it is very hard on the other. This lifestyle, if continues the same way, has a high risk of divorce. My father was married for ten years to another singer, but he was the one getting hired. He was the one gone all the time, making a success out of the stage. By the tenth year and after three kids, they divorced. She couldn’t take it. Her jealousy and loneliness got the best of her, made her miserable.
But I’m not stupid enough to think that there aren’t some marriages and relationships that do survive. I know they’re there. I haven’t met one yet, but when I do, I’d really like to interview them and see how they make it work.
So this is the path I’ve chosen. The mostly lonely but hella exciting way! Look out, World, there’s nothing holding me back!