For every person who ends up being able to support herself through singing professionally, there are dozens, maybe dozens of dozens, who fail to do so. The reasons they fail are myriad and fall into categories both benign and pitiable.
You can be a very talented singer with a great voice and also be very expressive and musical but still not succeed at being able to make enough money to live a decent life. If you are not a trust fund child or married to a monied spouse, and you depend upon yourself to put food, clothing and shelter in your day-to day existence, you can’t waste too much time “developing” yourself without getting burned out. Poverty doesn’t go down well.
Many folks get a “regular job” to pay the bills. They find something they like that pays decently and settle in to sing at night and on weekends. Of course, if you were hoping to sing opera, it makes it almost impossible to do that while you are working 9 to 5, since there are few “after work hours” opportunities. Still if you are willing to give up your free time pursuing your goals, you might still get your career off the ground. If you are in music theater, it’s harder still, as most open auditions are held during the day and you can only take so many “personal days” without losing your job. If you do other styles, you could perhaps find small gigs in lesser known venues and do enough performing to keep yourself in the game, at least as a serious amateur. I know several really talented people who have worked for decades in law firms or other corporate offices who have made a very decent “side career” singing or playing in their chosen specialty.
If, however, you have children, or if your spouse loses his or her job, or if you have elderly parents to care for, or if you get sick, singing could easily go by the wayside. There are only so many hours in the day. The desire to sing, the ability to sing, the talent for musical expression doesn’t go away, it just goes inside, waiting, hoping for a moment when it might surface again.
I chose to teach singing full-time at 29. I knew that this was a good choice for me but I also knew that I would miss the opportunity of standing up in front of an audience sharing my heart through a song. I strove always to let that “inner desire to sing” to be my motivation for helping others do what I was no longer doing. I absolutely lived through my students’ successes as they gave me (and still give me) great joy.
I am always thrilled when someone is able to launch a successful career as a vocalist in any style. It’s almost a miracle. However, those other folks who don’t sing, but who can sing, and would still like to be singers, matter. They may not have had life’s blessing and support to have the dream of their heart become reality, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be honored anyway. Perhaps they come around to singing in a community choir or church group, or they sing at parties or in bars, but they find a way to sing, even if it is just in their car or shower. I say to them, bravo to you! You may not be famous, you may not even be paid, but you know you still have a song to share and that’s the best thing you can do not just for yourself, but for all of us who had the same dream.