I gave up the safety of a regular paycheck when I left Academia after 11 years that seemed to have flashed by before I was aware that my temples had become gray. I knew I could teach privately and perform and thereby make a living. I did not know what awaited me would be so spectacular and I sense this is only the beginning. I have submitted paradoxically that every one (pathologies aside) has a voice that could be trained to a professional level AND not everyone is a singer!
There is the "Vocalist". One who has accomplished great vocal coordination and entertains with his fantastic physical powers. When s/he sings a high C, we are thrilled, as at the circus, when the trapeze artist makes a triple summersault before catching the next trapeze. We need thrills, and I pay to see such a performer.
There is the "Vocal Entertainer". S/he, with great vocal material or without, enjoys the gift of timing and vocal skill. S/he has a keen understanding of what vocal effect or artifice will momentarily capture the audiences imagination. Like a great illusionist, s/he will take our musical/theatrical focus to one end of our attention and then surprise us at the other end, sometimes with a chuckle, sometimes with a tear. We applaud the skill, but we do not laugh to the bottom of our bellies and we do not shed a tear that runs over our hearts. We need to be entertained, and so I pay to revel in the skills of the performer.
The word "Singer" for me is a sacred word. I am openly not religious. Despite a strong Catholic background and various other religious experiences I find religion overall restrictive in my world. Yet one of the "singers" I teach shows me how open and infinite her religious experience is, and I am humbled by it and it stirs me to contemplation and even prayer. When I say sacred, I refer to a tangible, palpable communion of the spirit that occurs in many instances in life and most certainly when a "singer" releases a song, an act that is no less than the expression of the "eternal", a revelation of that which is divine within us all, and as one of my students recently said: "the Breath of God." At such an instance, all in the world is still, and only the communion of souls exists. Even the most hardened spectator cannot deny the illumination of his spirit. Our patron, Orpheus, even in ancient times was made legend because he was thus gifted. The Bard expressed it powerfully in Henry VIII (Act III, scene 1):