All Sweet, No Bitter

Ten years in, I know that music is going to be my business for life.  Not just because I’m essentially job-proof for anything un-artsy at this point, more because this is where my heart is, where my spirit is most lifted, and where my soul gets fed.  It’s rarely easy, but the rewards balance out all the fatigue, stress, and frustration.  Really, they do.

It’s days like today that remind me how true this is, days like today when I must turn down a truly spectacular and fun opportunity in order to keep my word to equally fun bookings that were already in place.

I just had to say no to being a guest performer on a Pagan-specific cruise next fall, because I’m already scheduled to perform with Tricky Pixie on the dates in question.  Inner-child Sooj is having a HUGE tantrum that she can’t have both, and outer-adult Sooj isn’t much better off.

How good is the life I’ve built, that these are the things I have to be broken-hearted about today?

When I commit to a concert, verbally and contractually, I honor it unless some catastrophe or illness keeps me from doing so.  That’s it.  End of story.  I go to great lengths in order to do right by the people I work with.  I believe this is the way things should be.

I have only rarely thrown over a gig because something shinier came along.  Integrity matters a lot to me, and I try to feed and water my own regularly and well.  Even if I did rearrange things in this case, I’d be sacrificing something else that means a great deal to me – Tricky Pixie has been able to do exactly ONE concert together this year, so you bet your butt we’re excited to have a whole bunch of things scheduled for 2015.

I love my colleagues who are putting the cruise together, I’m deeply honored that they asked me to come, and I’m devastated that I had to say no.  But no one on the cruise team expected me to throw over shows I had already confirmed- never, ever.  They sent me their love and support, rather, and told me they were overjoyed for me.  This, also, is how I believe things should be, and I’m grateful.

In conclusion, a word to those of you who are doing everything you can to learn what it takes to help the musicians you love put on concerts, and do it right:  don’t ever assume a performer isn’t gonna be booked eighteen months in advance.  A lot of us who do this work for ourselves, indie-style, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t professionals, juggling calendars and using time management like whoa.  A lot of us book our concerts on a first-come, first-served basis because that’s how we know we’re gonna break even that month/season/year.  It’s not personal.  It’s business.  There are events that have asked me for a concert, year after year, and year after year, they don’t ask me soon enough and I have to turn them down because I’ve already got another booking in place.  I don’t turn them down because I want them to leave me alone- quite the contrary!  If you don’t ask us early enough, we really hope you’ll try again for another event or booking, as soon as you’re ready.  And remember to get everything in writing- it helps everybody involved.

One of my goals over the past ten years of working my butt off as a performer has been that word will get back to me, that colleagues of mine and concert promoters have said of me, “she’s really got her sh!t together.”  Some days I do, some days I don’t.  But people don’t say to me anymore, “you should keep it up and maybe you’ll go places!”  Because I am, and I have.  They aren’t always the places I’d like best to go.  It doesn’t always happen as fast as I’d like.  The popular statement that it only takes forty years to become an overnight success?  Completely true, in all sorts of ways.

But here I am, making hard choices, smiling through my inner tantrum, heartbroken over vastly beautiful things:  all sweet, no bitter.