Making the Cut

Hi friends! This is a story that I recently came across and would like to share. Its the story of Sam Arena, a story beyond the call of daily life, a story to learn from…

When I asked the client in my barber’s chair, “What’s it going to be today? Short-back and sides or a song?” he looks vaguely alarmed. I calm him by informing him that I only sing to people I don’t like. He laughs and settles back, but little does he know: singing truly is my passion!

Until I was 15 lived I Italy, where everyone breaks into song at the slightest provocation, so I became addicted to music from a young age. What would life be like, I wondered, without a beautiful song? As I grew into adulthood in Australia, I became nostalgic about the songs of my youth, and by the 1990s, as my wife Mary and I entered our second decade of marriage, I was sitting down with my guitar between haircuts and composing a few songs of my own; love ballads, especially.

When our 13th wedding anniversary rolled around in 1991, I dedicated two songs ”No One like You” and “You’re Mine” to my darling wife and watched tears run down her face as I sang, “Sam”, she said earnestly, “your songs give me goose bumps. They are too good to be heard by more people than me.”

Oh boy. Mary got my ballads in her bonnet and started pestering various media people about me, her singing barber husband. Two radio stations took an interest and played the songs, and then in 1993, a TV station called. After the programme was aired, I became renowned in our community as the Singing Barber and everyone insisted on hearing my songs in the salon while they got their haircuts. Business Boomed- and the cassettes I’d made of my songs sold out too.

The biggest surprise, however, was still to come. Within days of my television appearance, I received a call from a wealthy Melbourne entrepreneur who offered me a long-term recording contract. It was what any entertainer dreamt of. All I had to was sign. But, what does it involve if I sign? I found myself asking.

The music promoter explained that he would be investing a lot of money to promote and market my songs and me, so my heart had to be in it 100%. I needed to be wholly dedicated and focused on selling my records everywhere. I had to be prepared to travel and perform wherever I was asked and for as long as needed. In order to succeed, I would also be expected to follow their professional instructions.

I had a lot to think about.

My friends and customers all told me to go for it. And then I asked Mary what she thought I should do.

“All your life you have been dreaming of this,” she said, and then hesitated slightly. “Go, Sam, I’ll manage with the family…it will be OK”.

I watched my daughter Giselle and son Benjamin, then 11 and 9 respectively, playing in the backyard. Soon they would both be in high school…and where would I be? I was so accustomed to my family turning to me for love and support, and I loved helping them solve their little hassles in life. I honestly couldn’t visualize myself away from them for more than a week, let alone months on end. If I were to embark on a singing career, I’d only miss them terribly, I’d also certainly miss out on watching them grow up and turning to Dad to “make everything OK”.

I came to the conclusion that signing this contract would put a huge gap between me and my family and me…and I couldn’t bear the thought. My family was my life and it was a pretty happy life at that. I had great health, a loyal and loving wife and two beautiful, kind children. What more can a man ask for?

So I declined the music promoter’s offer and didn’t go on the road to fame. I’m still making music, I am rich in love and 15 years later, I have absolutely no regrets.


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