The Sarah Raines Concert Series

From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


I lived in a smallish town in Montana for almost six years. I taught choir at the university there for four of those years. I was a featured soloist in the two community choirs. Every theater company had cast me in at least one show. While there, I founded two touring performance groups. I performed in four cities. I put on a professional vocal recital.

But then

I moved to a smallish town in California. And I didn’t plan on being there for almost six years. What’s more, I decided I couldn’t wait six years for my career to move forward.

I set one big goal. To go to grad school. I worked for four months to apply for a graduate program in classical voice. There was only one university within an hour of my home that offered a master’s in classical voice. So I went hard. I researched the program, I attended master classes, I met with the faculty. I hired an amazing pianist, booked a recital room at the college and videoed a 40-minute recital to submit for pre-screening.

I also did the boring stuff like fill out the application and take the GRE.

I was granted a live audition.


The guy before me was amazing. They loved him. I could hear them gushing through the door. He came out smiling while the audition committee chuckled.

The energy when I went into the room was like ice. Imagine trying to behave like this is your show, your gift to an audience of three people, two of whom won’t look at you, and one has been passive-aggressive toward you for months.

The pianist was nice. I love collaborative pianists. I should write about Alessandra.

Ashes of Disaster

I did my best. But the audition was over when I walked in. I could feel it. A few weeks later, I got the notification that I was not accepted into the music program. No grad school for me.

However, I immediately turned my focus to another project. I had told myself that if I did not get in, I would do a recital. As I got preparing, I realized I did not want to stop at one recital. So, I created the Sarah Raines Concert Series.

Roses of Success

For almost a year, I put on concerts. I transitioned from doing a short, free, solo recital to collaborating with other artists and putting on ticketed events and charging money. The events started to sell out.

Then, I was hired to sing in the chorus of Opera Santa Barbara. I sang three operas with them–the whole season. And I started to get more and more professional gigs.

I no longer had the time and energy to maintain the Sarah Raines Concert Series hustle. Because I didn’t need to put my energy there to be able to perform.


I learned that I can make something from nothing. Disappointments can be catalysts for positive change in my life.


When have the ashes of disaster in your life been the soil to grow your roses of success?

5 thoughts on “The Sarah Raines Concert Series

  1. It is a wonderful gift to be able to sing well. I am not blessed with that, however I still do it anyway.

    I think its amazing how you turned a negative experience into a positive one. All my life I have turned peoples negativity into motivation to prove them wrong.

    And I have, every step of the way.


    1. I don’t sing well because I’m gifted. I sing well because I worked hard at it my whole life. Lessons, choirs, classes, a college degree, and I still practice daily. Most “gifted” people cultivated their own gifts.


      1. Yes, it takes years of hard work, I have a good friend who sings opera as well. She told me the story of her journey.

        In terms of it being a gift, I was referring to myself. I am just terrible at it, I have tried lessons, but I’m still really bad. Which is why I say I don’t have the “gift” even with lessons.

        Liked by 1 person

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