John Lane began his career with Coca-Cola in 1989 hand-keying barcodes for fountain dispensing equipment. And while his role at the company over the last 25 years has varied, his passion for music and his love of opera and choral singing outside the office have not. The business consultant has sung with the Atlanta Opera, the Choral Guild of Atlanta, the Colson Chorale, Georgia Tech Chorale and various churches, and just finished his 15th season with the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus.
We caught up with John to talk about his passion for music and singing.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN CHORAL MUSIC?
I come from a long line of musicians. My mother and her siblings all attended the Atlanta Conservatory of Music, and she became a semi-professional singer as a result. From the time I was a toddler, she had me performing vocal scales. Music has been a huge part of our family as long as I can remember, and I’ve done it all -- from a boy soprano with my brother’s rock band to grand opera. Can you image... from Steppenwolf to Verdi!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT MUSIC, WHETHER SOLO WORK OR SINGING WITH A CHOIR?
Music has been a lifelong passion and has given me a source of expression, an understanding of myself, and a connection to others. The voice is an amazing and unique instrument, and you take it with you no matter where you go. That’s one reason why flash mobs have been so popular in years past.
DO YOU SEE ANY PARALLELS BETWEEN YOUR WORK AT COCA-COLA AND MUSIC/SINGING?
Absolutely. Music is like Coke; it is universally understood, and it brings people together. I believe that's why we use music in our commercials. It’s a source of joy. Personally, in all of the roles that I have fulfilled here at Coke, I have had the pleasure of interacting with people, connecting with them, and communicating with them to deliver results.
The teams I have been a part of remind me of a musical ensemble – each member has its own voice that is pleasant to listen to – much like an effective individual contributor, but when you combine the voices, the sound the group can create and what they can achieve musically is amazing. It’s the same with our teams and what we are able to deliver in a business setting.
Also, performing is fun, and work should be, too. This is the world’s greatest company...
HOW HAVE YOU BALANCED YOUR WORK WITH COKE AND YOUR ENGAGEMENT IN THE ARTS OUTSIDE OF THE COMPANY?
I firmly believe that you need to balance the work that needs to be done with the softer skills to inspire yourself and everyone else to operate at the top of their abilities. Two years ago, I joined 310 North Toastmasters and we created a special role that I am honored to hold, VP of Entertainment, which is a great example of helping to balance efforts with camaraderie, and results with Joy.
In my early career here, I was rehearsing five nights a week and had a church job. As new roles have increased my responsibility level, I have had to scale back, but I never lost sight of music and have managed to stay engaged in the vibrancy of the Atlanta choral scene. Coca-Cola affords all of us our livelihoods with which to connect with the arts on a multitude of platforms. Many of my colleagues and their children are involved in the arts. It’s just where you find your own passion.
ANY AWKWARD MOMENTS ON STAGE?
The most awkward was when I was doing La Boheme with the Atlanta Opera. At the opening of the third act, a fellow bass/baritone failed to appear on stage, so I was left alone singing both parts. Luckily it was not a duet! Not even I could have pulled that one off.
WHAT ARE THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS EXPERIENCED SO FAR?
After so many performances, there are too many to mention. But, when you know that you have done your best and can feel that wave of love and acceptance come in from the audience or congregation through applause – that is a special moment for you both.