In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer

I’m the first person in my family to pursue a singing career, which is liberating and lonely at the same time. There’s no pressure to follow in someone’s super-successful footsteps, and I had the luxury of exploring my interests to pinpoint what I’d like to devote my life to. However, this exploration was a bumpy one, and in the midst of the various mini-crises and breakdowns there were times I wished someone with classical-singing street smarts could walk me through the process and warn me of both obvious and camouflaged pitfalls. My parents voiced similar concerns, knowing the connections and knowledge they had acquired through their careers would be of little help if I went in my own direction.

I’m old enough now to appreciate how they’ve let me go off on my own into unknown territory. If you’re a parent, an older sibling, or just someone’s good friend, you know the protective feeling of wanting your loved one to be safe, secure, and successful. What exactly went through my parents’ heads when they saw me struggling through various jobs? And when I started to take voice lessons again? And when I announced I was going to apply to graduate school for voice? Well, I’m not sure. But they gave me pep talks after rough competitions and congratulated me after each little hurdle.

In 12 days I will be leaving this city behind to mingle with singers who have not taken a four-year hiatus from studying music. I’m trading a steady paycheck for negative income (ah, student loans). I’m a soprano (there are too many of us!) and not even a rare Wagnerian soprano (enjoy the slow build or fast forward to 4:27). A lot of ladies are singing the same rep, which means I have to do it better best. I’m committing the next two years of my life to a tough field. As a professional tenor friend put it: there is no runner-up, you either book the job or you don’t. This isn’t an industry where second-tier performers can land a mid-level position. Which is why you better be best.

In the midst of all the late-starts and questionable odds, my parents have been remarkably cool about my decision to pursue a singing career. They might not know much about the business, but they’re with my each step of the way.

I’ve experienced a wave of love and support at a level that was completely unexpected. Three weeks ago I began a fundraising campaign to jump start this wild summer of music. My hope is to raise enough funds to cover the cost of the BASOTI program – a lofty, dreamy goal. After all, in such a big world who would be interested in my little campaign? Answer: family, relatives, co-workers, friends, and even high school friends I haven’t seen in almost 10 years.

In a time when opera houses are closing down and states are cutting funding for the arts, I have proof that music and passion and dreams are worthwhile. Through words, smiles, and actions, my supporters have urged me forward. I feel so lucky and so loved to experience such generosity and kindness.

Honor is such an old-fashioned concept, but in an age where we want things “in writing” and the only non-refundable purchases are cars and digital music, it is the right term to use here. I am honored that my friends and family believe in me despite the riskiness of pursuing music. They did not demand a demonstration of my skills or a legally-binding document before betting on me. I have never been more aware of or more appreciative of the good company I keep. A singer can go pretty far on pure determination, but we last longer and go further when we have others backing us up.

Thank you. I have no flowery phrases or elaborate metaphors. Just thank you, thank you, thank you.

Humbled, honored, and with a heart full of love,

Joyce

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