First appearing on Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching” list in 2017, the term “side hustle” has evolved to describe the work that someone does for supplementary income.
We talked with some Lebo residents to hear their stories, and the results were as wide-ranging and unexpected and downright interesting as we could have hoped for. Meet some of the local personalities who are out there hustling and bustling. Part of a series.
Lucky Rattan: Singer
If you go to one of the Catholic churches here in Mt. Lebanon, you’ve probably already witnessed Lucky Rattan working his side hustle. Since he moved here in July, 2018, he’s been earning extra income on the evenings and weekends singing for weddings, funerals and Sunday Masses at St. Michael the Archangel Parish and St. Paul of the Cross Parish.
“Three years in, I know we made the right choice moving here. This is such a great community. Everyone is so friendly! There are good schools. It’s beautiful here. It’s conveniently located to everything. Great print magazine,” said Rattan with a laugh.
Rattan moved here from Rhode Island when his wife, Susan, accepted a job as assistant professor in the School of Psychology at Duquesne University. Rattan, who had been working remotely for years, was able to bring his full-time job with him. They moved into their home on Thornycroft Avenue with their two sons, Luke and Bennett. Luke is now in fourth grade and Bennett is in first grade at Howe Elementary School.
During regular business hours, Rattan is a senior production manager for a marketing agency that specializes in direct marketing campaigns for nonprofits. “I just kind of fell into it,” he said. Rattan, who discovered he could sing when he joined his high school choir, studied voice at Rhode Island College. He started doing customer service and print production for a commercial printing company directly after graduation, and his current company, RKD Group, recruited him nine years ago.
“I was singing somewhat on the side, but not to the extent that I am now,” said Rattan. Pittsburgh has proven to have more opportunities for his side hustle.
He originally started as a cantor at his church, St. Michael the Archangel Parish, where parishioners pay him to sing for their weddings and funerals. A cantor is a liturgical musician who leads a congregation in song during a Mass. St. Paul of the Cross hired him shortly thereafter to cantor regular Masses as well. These church gigs are about an hour per call, Rattan said.
Now, Rattan also sings for the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, where he is a core member in the bass section. Their rehearsals average three hours once a week, unless it’s a concert week, which can sometimes require nine or more hours on performance weekends alone. But his wife and kids are very supportive and happy to watch him perform, he said.
“It’s doing something I love. It fulfills that part of me outside of my working hours and parenting hours,” said Rattan. “Especially the church singing—It helps people worship! With funerals, it helps people feel. Weddings help people celebrate … moving here with no connections, it has helped me a lot in socializing and making close friends.”
Rattan’s Advice: “Audition, audition, audition! Don’t burn any bridges. Volunteer for singing gigs and people will recommend you to others. Keep up with it. And limit your vibrato.”