Janitor cleaning up with his new gig as opera singer


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CHICAGO - Five nights a week Keanon Kyles is a janitor at a Chicago TV station. Unlike most of us, he loves mopping the bathrooms because it gives him a chance to sing opera.

Kyles says, "It's really quiet up here, so you get a chance to think about your music, study, sing through words. It's great! I like it. This is where I do my most practicing."

Guess what? That practicing has landed him a lead role onstage in "La Boheme" in Scotland. He won the part after mailing them a tape of his singing. Man, can he blow!!

To be fair, he isn't just a janitor. Kyles is also a vocal coach and works at a department store.

Kyles, "I sing opera on the side."

That's kinda the life of an opera wannabe. Even though he's performed onstage in Italy, he's on his grind 90 hours a week just to make ends meet.

Not unusual in the arts, says Houston Grand Opera's Perryn Leech. "Christine Goerke who is one of the world's greatest singers in opera right now used to work as a grocery clerk. All you're waiting for is the right opportunity, for the right person to hear you and go, 'Wow!That person's an amazing talent,' and off you go!"

Leech says that's happened at HGO's open call auditions. "There's been a steady procession from our chorus through to small roles. and then some of them go on to do training courses. Some of them graduate to larger roles in smaller companies."

So, maybe this is the universe finally giving Keanon Kyles his big break.

Kyles says, "It's... a lot of long days. But it all pays off in the end because you get to do what you love -- music."


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