The human voice is a funny thing. We singers are often reminded that our voices can have a shelf life…particularly those of us of the female persuasion, since hormones play a big role in vocal production. Now that I have hit the ripe “old” age of 40, I’m making plans of my own for the day when my voice is no longer as much of an asset as it currently is (hopefully that day is very far away!).
In my head, it’s been a foregone conclusion: I would most likely retire from singing in about 10-15 years.
And yet, today I met this fascinating woman who made her Metropolitan Opera debut at age 60. She is 72 now, and still going strong. Josepha Gayer is touring the country with a one-woman show that she wants to turn into a CD. And my conversation with her made me rethink a few things.
I’ve written before about the dangers of imitating mature voices before your own voice matures (ahem, Jackie Evancho), but what do you do if your voice has matured quite a bit before your career really takes off? Ms. Gayer has answered that question by pursuing an opera career with determination and a sense of awe and wonder for the art form in which she has immersed herself (“I am incredibly fortunate,” she told me with sincerity).
And now she has decided to record a CD. But she isn’t waiting for someone at a record label to say, “Hey, Josepha, come sing on this album. Stick with me; we’ll go platinum together!” (She’s not waiting for that to happen because the only time that kind of stuff happens is in the movies.) Instead, she has decided to produce the album herself and crowd-source the project.
Now, she certainly isn’t the first person to turn to crowd-sourcing to fund her album. We all know about Amanda Palmer’s success with crowd-funding (and if you don’t, you should REALLY watch her TED Talk), but since then, thousands of others have attempted to replicate her model without seeing the same results. Still, I support the idea of crowd-funding, and have myself supported my fair share of friends’ projects, from Early music to classical-pop crossover and everything in between. And I, like many of you, have experienced donor fatigue: that feeling that you just can’t give any more money to yet another album because come on already.
But something about Ms. Gayer intrigues me. Something about her career, her outlook on life, and the way she corrected me when I said I didn’t go about my career the right way (“It was the right way for you.”) inspired me. She’s an honest person trying to create something special out of her own experiences. And experience is something that only grows richer with age.
If you want to contribute to Ms. Gayer’s Kickstarter campaign, click on the link below. The campaign ends on June 10.