SINGER-SONGWRITER ~ PERFORMER ~ CLASSICAL SOPRANO
Music Is My EVERYTHING
I started Real singing when I was about 13 for my father, who's a songwriter and musician. However, I'd easily say I was BORN with music inside my soul
I'd been singing along with Disney since before I could probably talk & made up dance routines, as one does, by myself.
my father seemed to think my voice was good enough to record - and I thought he was full of shit... but In end I relented and sang a few songs for him.
The Rest, As They Say... Is History.
My Father would be hired to write music and produce songs for people who wanted their lyrics put to music for them, and I was drafted in to help with the vocals. The first one was when I was 13, and it was pretty good. It was for a young woman from Austria, who had some great lyrics to write for and sing, with whom we became friends with over the years we worked together... I was even invited to sing at her wedding when I was 17, and I loved it.
We received good feedback -- and I was even mentioned in a magazine, where the reviewer compared me [a 14yo amateur vocalist with zero formal training] to Sara Brightman... So, I was plenty happy about that(!). I'd never have imagined the irony of that, being as only Five Years Later, I would again be comparing myself to Sarah Brightman - but this time as someone singing the songs of Phantom of the Opera as a Classical Soprano & Musical Theatre Performer.
Incidentally, I had also been playing piano informally for most of my life, since we'd almost always had one in the house. My Mother came from quite a musical family, was an effective pianist, and taught me this and that from a young age. It was natural progression that, at about 10yo, I started some formal piano training, which lasted for a few years, until things became unbearable for me in my life.
I was maybe 14 by the time I stopped going, but by then I had become quite a proficient pianist. I was no savant with the piano, and I had outrightly refused to any formal testing whatsoever; this was because I liked doing it, not to have any advancement in it. However, I probably had at least got to Grade 3 or 4 level equivalent in ability (by looking at the exam papers for them) when I finished my formal training -- more than proficient enough to be able to compose, write & record my own music.
I became a songwriter in my own right from around 16yo, and it quickly became the friend I'd never had. It was what I turned to through my darkest times. I learned to use Cakewalk Music Studio PC Package (the only one simple enough to live up to its name - do not get me started on "Logic" & "Reason"...!) and even produced and recorded my own songs. This was new stuff back in the Mid-1990s, and this package was pretty damned good; easily well ahead of its time, and I picked it up and learned how to use it and manipulate it to its maximum ability for what I needed it to do. I also learned to use the mini-studio hardware my father had, which was a small vocal recording studio with built-in mixing desk... On Cassette Tape. That's all we had back then was tapes - and it was an upgrade from the really old-fashioned decades-long stables of Reel-To-Reel Tapes!
My father and I even collaborated on a few songs.
When I was about 17 my father convinced me to go for real Singing Lessons - and I started with the NWMT and a fantastic young teacher who I couldn't thank enough for her encouragement, support, and incredible talent for teaching.
With this proper & intuitive Vocal Training, I went from being an acceptable light-pop singer to a Classical Soprano within about a year. Somehow my teacher [we'll call her Mrs. F... 'cos I actually did...] somehow saw this in me, and I trained hard under her, pushing myself and my vocal abilities to beyond what I thought I do with every lesson we went through. I spent as much time as I could practicing -- songs, singing, exercises, scales, getting better, going higher, until I managed to reach a plateau of a Top-B [just under 2 octaves above "Middle C"] Comfortably, to a C# -- or even a D, with a big push on a good day.
I went from struggling with the ending to My Heart Will Go On to singing complex Musical Theatre songs from shows like Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Gilbert & Sullivan & Kismet, and Classical pieces like Bach's Ave Maria. I had some other ones like Gershwin thrown into the mix, and I even started learning classical songs in French and Italian, too. That was pretty amazing to experience.
Before Mrs. F left NWMT, I managed to achieve Grade 5 in Classical Singing & Grade 7 in Musical Theatre [singing] (just barely missing out on achieving Grade 8 when I went down with laryngitis just in time for my exam...). They were achievements I was very proud of... even though to this day I cannot get Koko's Little List song (The Mikado, Gilbert & Sullivan) - of all things! - out of my head, no matter what I do...(!!)
From there, I studied one year of BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts (before quitting through Sheer Boredom - it was a terrible course run by people who were the Living Embodiment of "Those Who Can't, Teach"[!!]), then went on to perform several times with a (now unfortunately dissolved) company called Star EFX and their Sunday Night Live shows, treading the boards of the best theatres in London's West End between 2002 and 2004 - The London Palladium (twice), Her/ His Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket, and The Palace Theatre Shaftsbury Avenue.
As well as this, I also had my own Cabaret show in Nort Wales, before I left for London. I got gigs via an agent and via auditions for them, too. I also entered random local "Talent Shows", because agencies and interested parties would attend them to find perspective vocalists and performers for their own professional requirement. I very much enjoyed being a small, mousy-looking thing that was then belting out things like Phantom of the Opera all the way to the end of Christine's final Crescendo, and watching their faces turn to shock. I certainly didn't look or dress like your average Classical Soprano, so the turnabout was definitely a big surprise for everyone listening.
As One Final Attempt of Validating myself; needing more internal self-sufficiency & feeling more confident about myself through my singing, I attended the Very First PopStars Auditions in Manchester [where My Dad nearly crashed into Dec [of Ant & Dec] at the bathrooms, nearly bowling him right over]. When I went in front of the judges in the closed room (cameras rolling, naturally) and sang my piece -- they let me sing it All The Way To The End. They didn't stop me. They listened, and to the entire thing. It was then they said "You're not quite what we're looking for" [I was counting on that] "but it's clear you have a very good voice--" And, well, I don't think I heard any more than that... I'd got what I gone there for, and I was Freaking Elated. Still am(...!). I'd got complete validation from the hardest bastards in the industry to impress. I was Elated.
By this time, I was also feeling that songwriting and singing my own songs was more interesting and truly inspiring to me. After deciding I'd had enough of singing other people's songs, I focused more on my own. I created an album and spent a long time on it... but before it was completed, my laptop got st0olen... and there were no other backups of the data. Only two songs from it still exist - two of which I had managed to record: Tangled Web and Black Rose.
After that, I made a demo album on GarageBand, when it was all new and shiny and free on new MacBooks. I got myself one of those gorgeous white G4 MacBooks and found it on there, so I went and re-made what I could remember -- and added more songs to take up the space of those I could not remember.
Life unfortunately got in the way of it, soon after that... tragedy, loss, illness, struggles... the usual... This time, I was too broken to even turn to music, or even be able to listen to it much, so the "new" album demo was laid to rest, as well.
This Multitude of Medical Conditions & Myriad of Health Failings have effectively removed any chance at doing this again, for the foreseeable future, as it has been for the last ten years already. It's been a long decade to get through, without being able to listen to music, make music, or even sing.
I Do Still Have The Data For Melodies For Melancholia - it sits on an old USB stick that is still with me. So, Never Say Never -- Maybe... One Day...!