Jim Altamore – There is No Free Lunch

It was 2008 and I was about to be interviewed for a superintendent position with a major construction company in New York City. It was about the same time the United States was plunged into the subprime mortgage crisis. Due to the crisis, the real estate development company I was presently working for did not have any new construction projects planned, so I knew I would be laid off as soon as the current project was completed.

At that time, the construction project I supervised was a block away from the New York Stock Exchange, so I routinely ran into financial managers and bankers whose careers were on the line. Their prognosis was bleak.

Soon, I was told by my prospective employer that the company was no longer hiring, and in fact, was bringing workers back to New York from Las Vegas, as construction projects there came to a halt.

Now, while I had worked in the 9 to 5 world for many years, I had also been a professional singer, working on weekends. Singing was and is my passion. In 2009 Chazz Palminteri asked if he could use my voice in his one-man play on Broadway, “A Bronx Tale”. In the play, my voice would be heard singing Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” in place of Sinatra’s, since my voice is very similar. At the same time, a French music organization contacted me to see if I would front their big band for some concerts in France. Of course, I said…YES!

Eventually, in 2009, I was laid off and soon was on my way to France to sing. It was a great experience and I wished that I would never have to go back to working 9 to 5 and just sing for a living.

The prospects of finding a new job in the construction industry were not good in 2009 and continued into 2010, so I relied on singing at a restaurant and at weddings to get by.  As I picked up more and more gigs, I became able to work solely as a singer. My wife works as well, so together we get by.

Singing is not only my passion, but it is also therapeutic. It allows me to express myself fully. It transports me to a place, a zone, of complete satisfaction. I am happiest when I am singing for an audience.

As they say: “There’s no free lunch.” Making a living as a singer is not easy. Sometimes you trade off money for the chance to do what you love. I do what I love to do…sing.

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