People are so quick to end a career simply because others don’t think the way they do. This is my story, an aftermath of others doing this to me.
I knew that I wanted to sing since I was little. I excelled in my high school choir as well as solo efforts and decided that I wanted to make a life of it. My dream was to sing Opera as a Tenor, so I set out to college to learn how to do so.
It was tough for me at Missouri Western from the standpoint of voice. I had several teachers throughout my time there, but the majority of my lessons came from a wonderful Lyric Baritone by the name of Jeff Nolte. The one thing that Jeff taught me more than singing was “how to act” and he groomed me to be in the profession I had chosen. Learning technique was difficult as I seemed to over analyse, which halted progress, but I continued to persevere and grew more knowledgeable in my craft. Even though I was a Tenor, Jeff kept me singing Lyric Baritone roles to save my voice. When I got frustrated at my lack of high-Bs, he would tell me that “too weighty a song too early in a career can butcher a voice, and I want you to grow into it.” He was very wise and quite patient with me. It was because of this bond between a voice teacher and student that I hold him in very high esteem to this day.
My youth and poor choices would see me drop out of college, which also meant voice lessons. It would appear that “life” had become my goal and not the Opera.
Years went by and I knew that my voice wasn’t fairing well, so I decided to take up lessons again. Not only that, but I decided to get back into choral singing by joining the St. Joseph Community Chorus. Monday nights were great. For 1 hour, I studied under the expert tutelage of Dr. David Benz, who, along with hard work on my end, brought my voice up to the quality it is today (I can pop off high-Cs like a BOSS). Every Monday, I would record my lessons (still have them all) and listen to them on my way back home, analyzing his teaching and carefully listening to my mistakes and accomplishments. It was a hard few years, but I started to hear and feel the difference.
Being in the Choral helped with my musical abilities as I re-learned singing with a group, had several solo opportunities and worked with very challenging music. I was in my 40s and my voice never sounded better. Through this time, I got more principle solo opportunities with other choirs. What I began to realize at that time is that I may not be singing in Aida, but I was doing the next best thing and beginning to make a name as a principle Tenor soloist.
Even though I didn’t take a personal stance on any of these questions, people who were key in hiring me for solo efforts as well as big names in the field would not have anything to do with me. In a nutshell, I became poison.
A solo opportunity that I had been notified became non-existent. I called the director sever times as I had not received my score. Performance time was coming close and I was working on my own, but still no calls. I contacted some friends who were in the know and they told me that my questions had got me blacklisted.
This happened 6 years ago, and it still hurts me today.
For decades, I worked tirelessly on perfecting my voice. At 50, I still have the range and power I had all those years ago. Yes, I can do other things, but in this style, classical style, I bloomed and flourished. Singing these songs in front of people with an orchestra behind me, singing alongside professional singers filled my soul and nourished my heart.
I’m angry that this happened, angry at people who decided to add their own narrative to the emotionally ambiguous hypothetical questions I posed so long ago. I’m angry when I see people that carry radical political views quickly want to ruin lives simply because the “other side” doesn’t think the way they do. I am one of those people, and now, my heart aches to sing like I used to do.