For jazz vocal stylist Tracye Smith, discovering her life’s delight was easy.
“Singing has always been my passion. My first performance was at 8 years old,” she said.
Since then, Smith found herself singing (and loving the attention performing brings) at informal gatherings, and weddings, and political fundraisers, and with the Trinity United Church of Christ Women’s Chorus. Yet the idea of earning a living with her vocal talent was never a serious consideration…until recently.
Preparation is Key
In 2011, Smith–who has enjoyed much success in high-powered corporate roles–decided to transform the singing hobby she loved into a professional career.
“After my divorce, I decided that I was going to do what I wanted to do. And if I was going to do this [launch a singing career], I needed to start taking steps in that direction,” she recalled.
Smith invested in a year-long jazz vocalist training program, sharpened her stage presence and started learning the ins and outs of show business. Soon after, she took her new career by the reins and booked performances at a variety of Chicago venues, including The ETA Theatre, The Jazz in the Grazz Music Festival and the Hollywood Casino in Joliet, Ill.
A Labor of Love
And, like most bona fide professional singers, Smith went to work on her debut CD, Love’s Journey—a silky smooth compilation of eight classic and R&B-inspired jazz tunes for the Grown and Classy crowd. Smith will officially launch her new CD in September 2012, just in time for the romantic fireside chats, candlelit dinners and intimate gatherings the Fall season tends to bring.
“I’m super-duper, ridiculously excited about my CD. I’m so proud of it,” Smith said, adding that she selected each of the covered songs to reflect her personal stops and discoveries along her own unique path toward love.
From managing the creative direction of her new CD, to booking her own shows, to interacting with her audiences, Smith enjoys every facet of her singing career. By far, she said, her greatest challenge has been shifting her thinking so that she identifies herself as a professional singer, rather than by her corporate credentials, only.
“Now, I introduce myself as a jazz artist [when meeting new people,]” she said. “When I started doing that, things really began to open up for me.”
Keeping the Faith
For example, when the associates at Smith’s day job (where she is a member of the corporate sales team) discovered her singing talents, the jazz singer was invited to represent both her company and her music genre in U.S. Cellular’s Call Someone Who Cares national customer satisfaction campaign. As a result, Smith is expanding her audience and winning new fans by the hundreds via YouTube and Twitter.
“This is it for me. [Singing] is definitely not a hobby. It is something I plan to have as my final career,” Smith said. “I can’t express the joy I feel when I’m performing or even in rehearsal.”
And to other Mae Bs. looking to find the same career satisfaction and joy, Smith suggests leveraging your special gifts and tapping into the things that interest you most. “If you have courage and faith, you can get back to that thing that drives you…and you’ll know it’s your gift by how people respond to you.”
Have you noticed positive changes in your life after changing your mindset or tapping into your unique talents? Please share your examples by replying below.