Plan B

Plan B and no I’m not speaking of the pill though the concept is the same. But I am speaking of plan B in life, the plan that is supposed to come into play when plan A falls off the court.

I look back when I was preparing for high school and reached the point where I needed to choose what school I wanted to attend outside of my zone school. That’s when plan A started and I said to my parents I really want to be a singer… And also old enough to be taken somewhat seriously about what I want to be when I grow up.

But to be honest, that has always been my plan A since kindergarten. I was always one to be in the spotlight whenever I can. If I wasn’t front and center I wasn’t happy.

My mother shares an epic story to many of my close friends about how ruthless I was even as kindergarten. To be fair here, as kindergarten you act on pure honesty and directness, there is no sense of filter at that age.

During one of my school plays at PS. 193Q, a fellow classmate was given the solo that I really wanted…which I made very clear to my mom. The day of the show, the auditorium filled to capacity with fellow classmates, faculty, and parents; Mid play during my classmates solo (which was the solo I wanted) I walked on to the stage, snatched the mic from my classmate and sang the solo, but not only did I sing that solo I decided to make up my own song and sing that too.

My mother remembers this incident more than me. She said “I just wanted the auditorium floor to open up and swallow me whole” of as she was so embarrassed by my blunt actions.

Plan A has always revolved around music. since I was little, you always found me singing around the house, in the car, literally anywhere without fear.

So back to getting ready for High School, that’s the point that my parents actually took me somewhat seriously and got me a vocal coach to prep me for my High School auditions. I got into the Professional Performing Arts Hight school in the city on 48th street. For those who are curious about the history and the famous alumni click here.

I started attending PPAS (Professional Performing Arts School) as a sophomore since my JHS covered up to the 9th grade. I, fortunately, didn’t really have to deal with many of the freshman issues.

I remember how excited yet scared and intimidated I was my first few weeks at the school. It was my first time being surround by classmates who were just as talented if not more talented than me. That ballsy girl who used to snatch microphones in kindergarten had quickly disappeared.
not that I no longer had any backbone to me but when you are used to be part of the small handful of talented kids in a school to becoming a small fish in a pond full of sharks you think twice and even three times before pulling a ballsy move as I did in kindergarten.

By my junior year, I decided that I wanted to join a gospel choir outside of school which was headed by the same director that was my music director at the school. I started to really grow vocally and gain confidence.

During High School, I went through a lot of ups and downs with my voice. It took a long time to accept my sound, to be honest, I didn’t really accept my voice until college. I wanted to voice to sound like how everyone else sounded. These amazing gospel and operatic powerhouses.

By the time I got to my senior year I realized that though all the classical training and gospel singing I wasn’t going to a conservatory. The chase to be a “classical” singer wasn’t something that I wanted to do nor did I ever feel that my voice was made for that.

As I approached my senior year I knew that I wanted to continue sing and studying music but not a conservatory…I have to say my parents were not really thrilled about me attending a school based around music.

I decided to audition for Berklee College of music, which is a music school based on contemporary and Jazz music. I was accepted to attend Berklee College of Music for spring 2008. This took many people by surprise as even my own mother didn’t think that I would get accepted. I also played a risky card by only applying to two colleges including Berklee.

Once I started attending Berklee, this is when I started to find my voice and style. It all started in a Rhythm and Techniques class (I think that’s what it is called). I remember covering an Amy Winehouse song and saying to myself this is the style of music I want to sing.

From that point forward I embraced my voice, I started singing songs from Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu and others alike. I also realized that I didn’t crave to become a supers anymore.

As my senior year approached and I needed to start applying for internships even though my principle was voice, I majored in Music Business and Management. I started to apply to place in which I felt can hold a potential future for me. I ended up getting an internship at ASCAP which was absolutely amazing.

Durning my internship at ASCAP, I was able to get a bit more insight on what goes into these foundations which help protect the work of us, artist. But my internship a little more than midway through, a good handful or more of employees were laid off. As intern fresh out of college, this is one the hardest things to witness.
It is enviable that as newbies the real world, the realities of this life will hit us. But I didn’t expect it to hit me like that. I was keeping my fingers crossed that I would be able to actually have a career or, at least, a job at ASCAP after my internship, that wish was quickly crushed.

After I completed my internship I realized that I need to start the hunt for a paying job. I knew that I would not be able to follow the lifestyle of being a bartender or a waitress because my parents would not approve of it. After all, I was lucky to actually to have administrative working experience on my resume.

I started the typical job hunt, I worked with staffing agencies and took any temporary job opportunities that came along. And yes I did look for jobs at record labels and other music industry companies but no one was really hiring for junior entry level jobs.

Here is where Plan B kicks in.

I landed a job at an architecture firm and started working the 9 to 5 lifestyle in NYC. But I continued to chase my musician dreams. I started performing live NYC and attending music events at least 3 nights a week.

I started living that true double life. From 9 am to 6 pm I was an office admin and from 9 pm — 3 am I was living the musician life. My weekends consisted of sleeping till noon then working on learning new music followed by going out with friends. I did my best to maintain some form of a social life.

I did this for about 2 years, performing live on average once a month, going to late night music events to keep my face “on the scene” rehearsals almost every weekend. It was a none stop roller coaster ride. And let us not forget that I still had my day job.

While trying to keep Plan A alive and using Plan B to sustain myself for 2 years, my started to give out on me. I found myself getting sick frequently, I started to gain weight rapidly. It is as if my body started to turn on me. I got so sick that I ended up in the hospital.

At that point I decided to give it a break, December 2013 was the last time I did a live gig. I told myself that I was going to take the next 6 months off to get myself back to 100%… and I did.

I started to travel, I went to London, India, Paris and Jamaica. As time continued to pass Plan B became more like my Plan A. Not that I forgot about music and my passion for it, but I got to experience the “white collar life” which was definitely a change of pace compared to how my life was a few months ago.

Now close to 3 years later I’ve yet to really do anything music related…I mean of done a YouTube video here and there, but nothing anywhere close to what I used to do. Do I miss it? YES of course though I do not regret the break I’ve taken. 
Also realities of trying to be a responsible adult kick in. My mind has become more about make sure I am able to live comfortably, having a 401K, good health insurance, the possibility of a bonus.

It’s crossed my mind many times like a thunderbolt to go back to living that double life, but I’ve now let plan B become my plan A, my security blanket, my comfort zone. I am also good at my job, I am really good at my job..granted I have weeks here and there where I am just a complete scatter brain which makes me human, but I am good at my job.

We become comfortable with knowing that if I do my job as I am required/ hired to do. I can guarantee the same outcome every 2 weeks.

My word of advice for the younger generations, do not let your passion be what burns you out as you Plan A can quickly change and you’ll wake up with plan B as plan A.


Originally published at www.amaliah.co on January 24, 2016.