Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jamie's Children

Sibling Non-rivalry?

Family dynamics are never simple. They can be complicated and even convoluted. I’ve been working on a book for some months now about a brother and sister, children of a highly successful opera singer, tenor Jamie Logan.

Laura, the older child, is a violin prodigy who begins a career at the age of nineteen. To call her an overachiever is an understatement, to say the least. Discovered at four to have this huge talent, Laura is driven to perfect it and to become the best in the world. She finishes high school early and graduates from Juilliard in three years, and during her final year at Juilliard wins the prestigious Queen Elisabeth competition.

Niall, her junior by not quite two years, is a placid, pleasant child who seems fine with being in his sister’s shadow. But in truth, those shadows contain more than anyone realizes. Niall’s real troubles begin when he is twenty-two. He begins to display symptoms of bipolar disorder. And sadly, this happens just as he is beginning to have a sense of who he is and what he can be as an artist in his own right.

Growing up in the fifties in a small town in East Tennessee, Jamie Logan was the “boy-next-door” personified. But he had a gift ─ an unusually beautiful tenor voice and the potential to take that voice and develop it. Every knowledgeable person who heard him sing encouraged him to consider pursuing a career in opera. His voice teacher at the state university he attended told Jamie he had “the whole package” – not just the voice, but innate musicianship, an ability to learn quickly, an ease with languages, unusual acting skills, and one thing more – he was blessed with physical beauty.

He was also plagued with self-doubt and lack of confidence. His first marriage ─ to his high school sweetheart ─ failed, shattering his belief in himself. Until he found a woman he could love and trust, Jamie’s demons plagued him periodically. Family crises threatened to stall his career. He was not prepared for the jealousy and rivalry he experienced.

The final element for most performers is luck, and Jamie eventually had his share of that. It’s a sad but true fact of life in opera world, and it’s also sad but true that the best singers don’t always get the breaks. But Jamie’s trajectory, while convoluted at times, is basically upward, and he achieved success. He became a star.

So what does that mean for Laura and Niall? Jamie’s family is at least as important to him as his career. He spends as much time with his children as he can, though the demands of his career sometimes make that difficult. How do they see him? How do they see themselves in relation to this loving father who is also a major figure in the world of opera?

Children of famous parents are fascinating … whether real or literary. Look for Jamie’s Children, hopefully sometime this coming spring. As soon as Niall and Laura finish telling me their stories!

In the meantime, you may enjoy reading Jamie’s story
in You Are My Song.
On Amazon, paperback or e-book.

cover by Tristan Flanagan