Intro
 
So I'm an opera singer. I sing loud and in strange tongues. Russian, German, Czech, French, Italian, Spanish. No, I do not speak these languages fluently, I don't even speak good English. But praise be, I am a good Mimic. And I study a lot. I wear ornate costumes and wigs and makeup and mustachios and capes and big swooshy hats and sometimes I even wear tights... That part I could do without. I fight with swords and knives and guns and I paint and I'm a sailor, a clown, a priest, a poet, a Prince, a thief, and would you believe, an Indian Chief? I am at times mentally challenged, and best of all, I sometimes go insane and kill a few people.

Super Fun! Who's got a great job? 

I'm from Paris, Texas. I suspect it would surprise you how many classical musicians hail from the South. I know a lot of us grew up singing and playing in church and I suppose that's where it all started for me. My Father, Jack Hunter, was a Southern Baptist Music Minister. Mother Carolyn, the church organist. My Dad died at the tender age of 41, when I was just 12. But in those few short years he managed to infuse in me a lasting belief that I can achieve anything my heart desires. I like to think that he is very proud to know that I’m out here singing opera. My Mom sure is.

I don't have one of those voices, ya know, where I can just open up and be glorious, but I am stubborn and persistent, and one of these days just maybe I will. I am most certainly not famous, but I've been on stage with a few famous people and I watch them very closely... and I am encouraged, for they are not so different from you and me. They make mistakes, they have bad nights, they get sick and nervous, they have their rituals, their quirks, but with few exceptions, they try really hard to do their best. Sometimes they are amazing. That's the thing; see, they have potential at any given performance or rehearsal to be uniquely excellent. They all bring something different. Me too. Not everybody likes what I do, what I bring, and that's ok, I don't like what I do either sometimes. But 21 years later, I’m still trying.

See, this is really hard, though several members of the Pompous Ass Persuasion are quick to point out that... If Jethro here can do it, anyone can. Haw Haw Haw. Ok, not hard like manual labor hard, but it's hard on your personal life, on your mind and on your spirit. Having people critique you is never fun, in any setting, and certainly not in the world of Classical Music. High Art. It's actually very disturbing, seeing un-niceties about yourself in the paper for all the world to read. But in principle, I try not to put my self-worth up for public debate. My Mom once told me I was just fishin for compliments when I read reviews, so now I don't. I go out there and do my best.

I've learned that for me, there probably won't be some big break, (Check out my book for my first amendment), some new production or role or voice lesson or coaching that just brings it all together and everything will suddenly just click, and I'll be a great tenor and in great demand and will possess a flawless technique and I will behave properly and have panache and be clever and artsy and thin and everyone will love me. Not likely. For most of us that just doesn't happen. I just have to do the work. No shortcuts. I have to study hard and practice wisely and passionately, and I should find a very smart agent and let her do all the talking.

Cue Deborah Sanders.

I have a friend who loves to say Life Shows Up. It is his theory that we do our best, hopefully, and life shows up and helps us or teaches us, or challenges us or humbles or uplifts or guides or enables or even kills us. Sounds about right. Life showed up in my favor on so many occasions, in many different forms. I have more than my share of true friends and I have a wonderful family. (That’s so much more important than any of this singing stuff). My gratitude and adoration for my wife Meg and son Cooper Jack cannot be translated into a few words, so I best not try. Look at the pictures; you’ll see what I mean.

Life showed up and I met Bill and Dixie Neill, and when I couldn’t sing and was completely broke they taught me anyway, with great patience and kindness. And even though they didn’t really know me, they invited me into their home and they fed me. I hope that someday I can treat someone with equal compassion. But I kinda doubt it.

I am VERY lucky, blessed if I may, and that's a big part of it, ya know... right place, right time and all that... small town Texas boy out there working with some of the most brilliant musicians in the world. Getting to sing this music with a live orchestra. Ever heard one? It still amazes me, all those sounds, those people coming together.

This operatic career is a dream, with a multisitude of perks. We travel a lot. Up to 10 months a year, great cities of the world most of the time. The FOOD that is out there in the world! The beaches, the views, the history, the undeniable milk of human kindness. I meet people from all over and we usually make nice, forming strange little acquaintances that last only a few weeks. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

I'm happy to report that so far, I have the best life of anyone I know. I’m not going to put a CV or Bio in here, but Get This... I got to sing at the Sydney Opera House. I got to study for two years at JUILLIARD. I performed on Broadway in a PLAY. I stood on stage with Kathy Bates. I sang in Nice, in the old opera house that sits right there next to the sea in the South of France. Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris, Russia, Santiago, Monte-Carlo! I’ve sung in new operas by Andre Previn, Jake Heggie, John Adams, Elliot Goldenthall, and Howard Shore. This summer I’m singing Captain Ahab in Jake’s ‘Moby-Dick’. AND, best of all... last year I was the real-life Placido Domingo’s understudy. I did all his rehearsals then he came swooping in and sang all the performances and made all the money and it suits me just fine. I am proud to hold that man’s coat.

See, I told you I was blessed. 

And yet, believe it or not, sometimes I want to quit. Because I miss home or the grass is greener or I'm sick of unfitted hotel sheets and order-out food and I’m tired of staring at train schedules in chicken scratch and I’d rather be sitting on my own couch watching my baby boy grow... but then the thought of getting a real job settles in. I wouldn’t know where to start.

So I count my many blessings, and know that no matter where I go or what I do, my Momma’s favorite performance will always be the ones at the First Baptist Church in Paris, TX. Singing the songs my Daddy taught me.

The older I get, the more I understand her position. 

Now behave, 

JMo