Speaking of a few singers who should turn singing into a hobby, there is now a rumor that a movie is being made about the ultimate pay-to-sing performer.
Pay-to-sing programs are legion. They are typically set up for young singers to learn a role or get coaching and voice lessons over the summer while school is out. You can find pay-to-sing programs all over the Unites States and Europe.
There is a slight stigma to these programs because singers who are “good enough” get into Young Artist Programs (YAPs). There are about 50,000 singers going for 50 YAPs — those numbers have not been verified — so maybe it’s not just about being “good enough.”
Pay-to-sing programs are a great way to experience music for anyone and I’ll write more about pay-to-sing and YAPs another time.
However, there is one person who paid to sing in a much larger way. She was Florence Foster Jenkins. After inheriting her family’s wealth, she founded and funded the Verdi Club in New York City.
She started performing in salons and recital halls in elaborate costumes which she designed herself. There is a certain Quixotic air about her story that I find to be touching.
She was routinely and fairly criticized for her inability to sing. Most of the people who attended her performances were there to be entertained by her lack of vocal skills. Throughout her life, Jenkins never gave it up.
“People may say that I can’t sing, but no one can ever say that I didn’t sing.” How beautiful is that? How many of us can say the same about ourselves?
The recordings of Jenkins are from the early 1940s when she was more than 70 years old. There wasn’t much of a voice or a technique to begin with so these recordings of her aged instrument are off-the-charts bad when it comes to the singing.
I still come back to the fact that she was still singing at the end of her life. No one can say that she died with her song unsung.
Meryl Streep is reportedly in line for the role.