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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Gonzaga

Track 3: Healing Myself

I think one of the weirdest worlds you could possibly be trying to navigate during a global pandemic is the world of opera . A lot of singers took big hits during that time, so I know I am not alone in that, but perhaps what was most fascinating and disturbing to watch was all the dirty laundry that suddenly showed itself in the industry, when it was once hiding in the back of the closet. It was like when your mom asks you to sweep the floor when you are a kid and you just sweep everything underneath the rug, only to find a piling of dust and grime underneath that thing several months later.

The commodification of art that comes from your soul in a capitalistic society tends to be a dangerous game, at least it proved to be for me. I was busting my ass to raise money for all the programs, get all the degrees, pay all the application fees for competitions. I was spending so much of my little income on doing the next thing that could help me “make it”, while at the same time attempting to stay mentally sane through all of the rejection, body shaming, and exclusivity. I saw a tiktok at one point where a big wig singer was claiming that the US did not even have an industry for classical singing at all, because so few singers were able to work full time in the field and stay in the country without doing something else on the side to pay the bills. Having a “correlating career” and living a two job life became the norm. It was not until a global pandemic forced me to stop and breathe that I realized there is an industry for opera in America, but the paying customer was no longer the audience member. Now, it was the emerging artist footing the bill. Maybe somewhere in Europe it's better, but according to current trends I see the idea of profiting off of young artists proves contagious, and if that toxic notion doesn't exist somewhere, then many other toxic gatekeeping norms do. I am sick of living in a society, and trying to survive in an industry, that takes advantage of its most vulnerable members. My dreams became a commodity, a way to make money for everyone else, except me. The fruits of my labor were benefiting everyone else's bank account except mine. I was forced to work three jobs with no benefits and feel chronically spread thin because it was preached to me since I was eighteen years old that in order to have an actual career in opera at some point down the road, I must spend ten plus years cosplaying one first. It’s like the most masochistic and oppressive “fake it til you make it” that was ever invented. Except the worst part…most of us don't even get to “make it” because of twenty thousand other barriers to entry.

All that aside, opera is still beautiful. The art form itself is worth preserving. I have no doubt about that. But after suffering to fit in the current box of “opera” …I came to the conclusion that the only way for me to be happy and make this art form a part of my life, was to be the creator of something new. I am not a cog, I’m a machine. Anything less than this just feels like I’m a square peg trying to fit into a round hole at this point.

I wrote “Healing Myself” very recently. This song will only be about three months old on the day you see this post. This song is about the realization that you are worth more as a person than how some have treated you. This song is about processing the anger and sadness that comes with your previous dreams collapsing, while still holding out hope that this will lead to something better. This song is dedicated to all the other emerging artists out there that are paving their own way in the arts despite how difficult that path may be. This song is an anthem to my own personal strength. The unique and rare kind of strength that it takes to give up on a previous dream in favor of a new and better one. The kind of strength they don't talk about because it's not glamorous. It inevitably leads to massive blows to the ego and moments of drowning in aggressive imposter syndrome brought on by past traumas, but nevertheless, you will look back on your life after another decade and think “man…thank God it just freaking did it…thank God I did this my way. Thank God I gave my art back to myself as a gift, so it can finally be given in the right way to everyone else.”

Writing this song was a way to remind myself that I am worth healing…and that at the end of the day my art is nothing else but in fact…a gift. A gift to humanity.

Consider me an artist emerged. For I have risen from the ashes, like a damn phoenix.

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