The genius and the silence of Janet Baker

October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Dame Janet Baker, who has just won a Lifetime Achievement award, stunned music lovers when she quit in her prime.”

There is something quietly elegant about knowing when you’re ready for the next chapter in your life. Dame Janet Baker expressed such elegance in the early 80s when, at the height of her career, she decided to stop singing altogether. An article discussing her recent Lifetime Achievement Award from Gramaphone summed her retirement perfectly: “With all the grace, self-discipline and dignity that had distinguished her career, she wouldn’t countenance the possibility of slow decline or off-nights. She just said goodbye and went.” When asked if she had any regrets about retiring early, Baker said “…not at all. I stopped when it felt right.”

This article has a profounding impact on me. I didn’t know this about Dame Baker when I decided to end my singing career. As an artist, I am in no way at her level, but I, too, stopped when it felt right. Not only did it feel right, but it gave me the chance to follow yet another one of my dreams. I have no regrets at all. I can’t believe I’m in such company, in such a unique way.

Does it take true success at something to know when you are free to stop doing it?
Is that when you know it feels right to stop?

David Walker

Dame Janet Baker article


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