PEARL LEMON INTERVIEWS:
Sue Fink brought together a small group of 18 singers in 1993 to form the Angel City Chorale. The choir began at McCabe’s Guitar Shop with a mission of inclusiveness and a commitment to a united community. Since then, Sue’s leadership as Artistic Director and Conductor has fostered an environment that currently enriches the lives of more than 180 singers with diverse musical experiences, creating a world-class choral sound. Most recently, she conducted four performances on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, advancing to the semi-finals and receiving the coveted Golden Buzzer. Additionally, Fink composes and arranges for choral organizations, and writes songs for TV and movie soundtracks.
A Fireside Chat
I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Sue Fink at Angel City Chorale today. From talking about SEO for eCommerce sites, Sue agreed to a quick interview.
She took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know her better and hear more about the things that have helped shape her business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!
What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?
Harry Potter. Why do you say? Good lessons.
- The impossible just may become possible
- Imagination is the foundation of all growth
- Integrity and honesty are the elements of authentic lives
- Sometimes leadership is thrust on us by circumstance. Step in with a lion’s heart.
- There comes a point where we all have to choose the right thing (or not.)
What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?
Ring lighting for my Zoom calls. I also spent $1.00 on an eraser!
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
My free-floating anxiety has no bounds. Yoga and valiant attempts at meditation have helped. Luckily, I have a pretty good sense of humor and laugh at myself. I can turn to colleagues within the organization for advice and help. Most interestingly, when I feel anxious, I find that working calms me, so I turn anxiety into drive.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Every night in my prayers or just before sleep reflections, I ask my inner self (and bother God) to help me be my best self… to be a small part of making the quality of all lives better. Then I can examine my motives, ways of dealing with others, contributions or lack thereof, and to prioritize my own actions. It’s a good habit.
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
An investment in a dedicated team!
Leave the world a little better than you found it.
- Sue Fink
How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?
In 2016, I was conducting the first leg of a tour in England. We had a 200 voiced choir and orchestra. The macho concertmaster in York started picking on me with digging comments which culminated with “Your entrance cue was not clear.” Frustrated with him, I said, “Well, maybe you could do better”. He grabbed my baton out of my hand and flourished it at the orchestra saying, “That’s how it’s done.” You could have heard a pin drop in that room. After rehearsal, he said privately to me “Look, women have no place being a conductor. Wait till you get to London. The Royal Philharmonic will eat you alive.” He got under my skin, and I practiced night and day for three days until I stood on the podium in front of the Royal Phil and gave it my all. In the end, the London concert master shook my hand and congratulated me for a job well done. Lesson learned; study until you can trust yourself without a doubt
Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?
I brought together a small group of 18 singers in 1993 to form the Angel City Chorale. The choir began at McCabe’s Guitar Shop with a mission of inclusiveness and a commitment to a united community. Since then, we’ve fostered an environment that currently enriches the lives of more than 180 singers with diverse musical experiences, creating a world-class choral sound and audience. As the founder/conductor I set the vision and tone for the organization which has led us to internationally tour, record several releases, and to the semifinals on America’s Got Talent.
If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?
I believe that every one of us has value and has the ability to be an influencer even in the tiniest of ways. We all own the planet. “Leave the world a little better than you found it.”
What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?
I would tell younger me, “Never let fear get in the way of your dreams. Breathe deep! Let your heart pound and still go for it with your eyes open and your whole self-committed. Fight for yourself as hard as you fight for others.”
Where do you see your industry in the next 5 years?
Choral music is community forging. One out of six Americans and even more worldwide sing in a choir. COVID has forced us into new ways of existing. Our audience will grow, and participation will reach new heights. Choral groups will no longer just be heard locally. The internet will continue to foster world recognition and participation. Hopefully, donors and institutions will recognize and support the importance of choral singing and will help grow participation and audience.
What one song can you listen to every day non-stop?
I listen constantly to the music I am preparing…. but for nostalgic happiness I turn to my favorite album of my youth…Judy Collins “Wildflowers” … One of the best songs on that album was “Michael From Mountains” written by Joni Mitchell. It reminds me of driving through Big Sur and the adventures of young me.
How has Covid-19 changed your industry?
Choral music was deemed one of the biggest super-spreaders of the disease. I was afraid that it would be the end of choirs. In 2019 we crowded 180 singers on stage and 2500 audience members into our live performance. In 2020 we couldn’t sing together, and we could have no in-person audience. It came down to a choice. Close down or find another way. Many gave up. We turned to virtual rehearsals and creating a virtual concert. We literally had to reinvent the wheel to pull it off. We can’t sing together in a room for fear of contagion or even on Zoom because of the delay. Each singer had to be on mute, which changed how we learned, recorded, and performed. We had to learn new skills of mixing and video editing. Angel City Chorale with the help of a dedicated team, put together an entire virtual concert. We have reached over 34,000 people so far on YouTube in the first three days and have now 100,000 subscribers. I think in the future we will combine live concert and streaming.
Check Out Sue's Company Profiles:
Pearl Lemon are an SEO, PPC, PR, and B2B lead-generation agency. We are based in London but service clients around the world.
We have taken the time to interview entrepreneurs and experts (like Sue’s) in this new series.