CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After 19 years as a professional opera singer, Betsy Bare is still passionate about music.
It's the nomadic lifestyle of a struggling artist with a low income and no health insurance that the 37-year-old Kanawha County native is ready to give up.
"I don't think that I can continue living without benefits and, at times, really struggling and working three, four different jobs to make a living . . . while you give so much to your art," Bare said. ". . . I'm 37 now, and I want home."
She moved back from her most recent residence, in New York City, to Charleston about a month ago.
Bare, originally from Alum Creek, started nursing school this week through a joint program of Charleston Area Medical Center and Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College.
Bare, who also goes by the stage name Elisabeth Baer, kept Charleston as her home base while she traveled throughout the United States for her art. She's lived many places -- from New York City to New Jersey, Indiana to Pittsburgh. Once, in the span of 13 years, she moved eight times.
"Sometimes I would be in a place for six months and I would just take a few suitcases, but other times you're there for a couple of years," she said. "So it's nice to keep a home base somewhere that feels like home because you're moving so much."
Bare decided to become an opera singer in high school after a voice teacher recognized her gift. She also considered nursing then, before getting scholarships for music. Her mother has been a nurse since 1966.
It was a few years ago, though, when her father, Jerry, became sick with cancer that sealed her decision to become a nurse. She came home to take care of him during the last months of his life.
"I think that experience, it proved that I could do what it took to be a nurse if I could be a caregiver for someone that I'm that close to " Bare said.
It also changed her priorities in life, she said.