Before I moved to Atlanta in 95, I spent years traveling the Southeast singing in Rock bands. After one of my concerts, a professor of music at Georgia State University, pulled me aside and asked if I would consider studying voice. I liked the idea of expanding my vocal technique so I decided to apply and got in!
Professor Hill immediately took me under her wing and helped me get a scholarship. One day, she suggested I sing opera for a living. It blew my mind and I laughed it off! Despite my apprehension, she was determined to educate me on Italian and French classical literature. After a couple of months – I completely fell in love with the genre.
I graduated from GSU in two years, bypassed a master’s program, and went straight into a Young Artist Program in New York. It was insanely challenging and intimidating because I was up against kids from Julliard, Eastman, Carnegie Mellon, and Berkley. I lacked their experience and training but I did have years of stage performance at bars, dives, and dancehalls. I found a mentor in Peyton Hibbitt and buried my head deep in opera scores.
Once my opera career gained momentum and I was traveling constantly – coming back to the chaos of New York wasn’t appealing. Atlanta provides that calm I crave and plus it is easy to fly anywhere in the world from here. We have called the Grant Park/Glenwood area home for fourteen years now.
We have a son, Noah, who is in the fourth grade at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School. Before we selected a school, we asked around and so many parents had great feedback about the close location and most importantly its philosophy. Now that we are part of the school family, I would say ANCS is unique because it encourages a child’s emotional development. It also encourages community and is very inviting.
Noah used to make fun of me or hold his ears when I would practice opera but now he barely even notices. One of my finest moments was opening night at the Metropolitan Opera. I was making my debut in The Merry Widow. While on stage singing, I found Noah in the audience and he was singing along, out loud, word for word. It was so special. I had no idea he took all that in over the few months I was practicing at home.
Introducing children to the arts should be as simple as sports. All it takes is exposure. The spark resonates and then there is no turning back.