Career Reinventors are a New Breed of Crossover Artists

Musical crossover artists appeal to multiple audiences based upon their music “crossing over” into two or more record charts for different musical styles or genres. As far back as 1954 rhythm and blues (R&B) began transitioning to what would become doo wop. “Sixty Minute Man” recorded in 1951 by the Dominoes (#1 R&B, #17 Pop charts) was the first significant R&B record to crossover to the Pop chart. “Crying in the Chapel” recorded in 1953 by the Orioles (#11 country chart) almost made it to the fabled top ten and showed that there was a white audience for R&B records. But it wasn’t just R&B that was changing the music scene.

Tenor singer Mario Lanza scored many hit songs on the classical and pop charts in the 1950s and was one of the earliest classical crossover artists. Country music has consistently crossed over into the Billboard 200 pop charts since artists like Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline scored pop and country hits in the 1950s. Christian artist Amy Grant has been hugely successful crossing over into the secular market. Latin music artists Gloria Estefan and Ricky Martin enjoyed widespread crossover success into the Billboard pop charts as well as the Top Latin Albums and Top Latin Pop charts paving the way for Spanish-language crossover singers, including Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Daddy Yankee, and Luis Fonsi. Jazz trumpeter Chuck Mangione’s 1978 single “Feels So Good” reached the Top Five on the Billboard Hot 100 and guitarist George Benson’s “Breezin” topped the Billboard 200 and the jazz and R&B charts in 1976.

The most frequent questions I hear today as a career coach from clients who have been in the workforce more than just a few years are, “Can I reinvent myself?” “Can I ‘crossover’ into another industry or field?” As a direct result of Covid bringing issues of mortality and quality of life to the fore combined with advances in education technology that have created a level playing field of candidate caliber across generations, a tsunami of career reinventors has emerged and the wave is not likely to recede any time soon. Not to mention the fact that work itself is continuously being reinvented and changing our work lives daily.  Whether it’s the pandemic jumpstarting a long-held aspiration to do more meaningful work or pursue a lifelong dream or loss of a job, reinventors are everywhere and crossing over into unchartered territory with an unmistakable mission and purpose.

There has been no more ideal time in the evolution of work to change careers. Pursue your purpose and know that what you discover along the way may lead to even more opportunities and directions. Take stock of all the transferable skills you’ve acquired in your career, identify the ones you want to use in your next iteration, and focus on those. Learn new skills that will get you closer to your goal. Write and share your career story and the value you bring to your new career. Imagine your best possible future and convert it into actionable steps. Define success for YOU so you know when you’ve arrived. Be bold. Be daring. Don’t compromise. Be all in or not at all. Be uncompromising in what you leave behind. Remember: there are no handrails on the road to reinvention. Let go, lean in, and go for it.


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