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Posted by on Sep 13, 2012 in Articles | 6 comments


by Bryce Smith

What else in life could be scarier than picking up our life and moving across The Big Pond?  You must: learn a new language, find a new place to live, find a way to pay for it all and give up a rather comfortable existence here – car, apartment, job, healthcare, etc.

A stable life is very sexy!  I get it.  I was lured into complacency by healthcare and a 401k.  These are the tools that big corporations use to keep workers grinding out day after day of enormous workloads in highly stressful situations.  But who is really benefiting here?  Who is the one that actually gains?  Who has a soul and who is eating it?

My awakening moment came this past April when my beloved voice teacher and mentor, Linnie Garner-Mower, passed away from a long battle with cancer and Leukemia.  She had believed in me without question and had invested much in me.  Yet here I was sitting in NYC, working a 9-to-5 and not accomplishing much.  I was not doing what she knew I could do and I suddenly felt horribly, uncontrollably sick.

I had to make a change and do it immediately, for her.  I had to change the way I thought about myself, thought about the world and thought about opera.  I was treading water and nothing was happening except I was getting older and more frustrated by the day.  I realized that no one was doing this to me but myself.  I was allowing my career to slip away.

I would like to pose this question to you.  When you meet someone and they ask what it is that you do, do you say, “I’m a secretary/waiter/personal assistant to blah for blahat blah.”?  I learned and taught myself to now say, “I am an opera singer” first.  If I don’t tell myself and everyone else every day, then I will never believe it and never accomplish it.

How do you view yourself?  Are you an opera singer or not?  If you don’t realize that you are worth more and can make a much better living doing something you love, then those corporations and restaurants get cheap quality labor. You get stress and an excuse not to succeed at what you love.  No more excuses.

There are several books that you must read.  These books opened my eyes to what I was actually doing with my life – absolutely nothing extraordinary at all.  I highly recommend you go get them and read them within the next week!

Class, your reading homework is:

Use what you’ve got (& Other Business Lessons I Learned from My Mom) – Barbara Corcoran

Zen and the Art of Making a Living – Laurence G.Boldt

How to Find the Work You Love – Laurence G. Boldt

Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

Golf is Not a Game of Perfect – Dr. Bob Rotella

Complete Preparation – Joan Dornemann

It is scary.  I admit it.  It has taken me much longer than it appears to make this decision.  I have known for many years that if I really want to have a career singing opera I must be in Europe, period.  Yet, I was never ready to admit it to myself.  I wanted to believe that I could have a career starting in the U.S., but I was wrong.

Case in point, last year in all 50 states, there were 1900 professional performances of opera.  That sounds like a lot– until you start analyzing the number of opera houses, breaking down the number of actual productions and looking at how many singers actually sang in those performances (clue: U.S. companies, across the board, tend to hire the same set of big-name singers as well as the same regional singers they have used before).  Last year,in Germany alone, there were 7900 performances.

Go East, young talent!

Don’t be discouraged, you can have a career in the U.S., but you must study with the right person, be working with the right people and then be found by the right organizations at the right time.  Oh, and where you go to school seems to make a big difference, too.  Yes, the U.S. loves politics – even in the arts.

It is not for me to tell you how to accomplish this.  There is a myriad of ways to go about the big move – from cashing in your 401k (as I did) to performing fundraising concerts, garage sales and bake sales or even utilizing the crowdsourcing websites (,,etc).  You must all make your own decision about how to get your personal business up and running.  You must brand yourself and begin growing this business of “You”!

Plain and simple, I’m actually more scared of becoming just another cog in the workforce that is the American corporate machine.

I am an artist.  I am my own business.  I am an opera singer.

And yes, I am scared – of not being me.

Bryce Smith (Bass) hails from Lumberton, Mississippi, has been a resident artist with Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Natchez Festival of Music and Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre in New Orleans. In 2004, he made his professional concert debut with Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall.

Smith became a D.C. favorite, first performing with the Capitol Symphony Orchestra for the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished American’s 60th Anniversary Inaugural Dinner at Andrew Mellon Auditorium and then performing the national anthem at the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s 18th and 19th Annual National Race for the Cure, the largest race/walk fundraising event in the world with 50,000 participants.

Smith has received many awards from companies such as the Mobile Opera Guild, Denver Lyric Opera Guild and Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He has been seen in the tri-state area as Zuniga in Carmen, Barone Duphol in La Traviata, Count Capulet in Romeo et Juliette, Ashby in La Fanciulla del West, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Don Giovanni and Mephistofeles in Faust.

This year, Smith will appear as Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust with Regina Opera Company and Bluebeard in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle with Opera Manhattan Repertory Theatre.

Learn more about Bryce at:

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  1. Great article, something I recently discovered myself!! (Not the Opera Singer part). Congrats on following your dream!

  2. Follow your dreams, never say “I can’t” and surround yourself with those who love you and believe in you and lift you up. Toi toi, Bryce!

  3. Thank you, Terri! Never lose sight of your dream. After all, most people don’t realize that dreams are really THE goals you should always work to accomplish. They are only unobtainable if you say they are. Never say “never”!!!

    And…..Thanks Anne!! It’s nice to “see” you again!

    I’ve been in Berlin a week now and it is going rather smoothly (the transition that is). I’m learning more German every day and everyone is very nice.

    I’ll try to keep everyone posted on what happens!


  4. So are you yourself making the move then Bryce? Another fantastic book with more of the ins and outs of Germany, Switzerland and Austria is “What the fach” by Philip Shephard. Explains all of the peculiarities and ways to make it work. All best to you.

  5. What an wonderful post! I wish you all the best.

  6. Bryce – you’re the best. Period.

    La Toya

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