Sing out, children
Local vocal coach Holly Taylor gives everyone a chance to sing at annual student recital
You realize after talking to Chico jazz vocalist and voice teacher Holly Taylor that she’s the kind of person who would not tell someone with an unconventional voice that he or she might as well quit singing, as some teachers might do (and have done, to hear Taylor tell stories of some of her students’ prior experiences).
Taylor “honestly think[s] everyone in the entire world wants to sing, but [some] have convinced themselves they can’t.” She sees the natural beauty that exists in every voice, from the classically beautiful to the quirky, and sees it as her mission to help all aspiring singers who come to her to express themselves in the best way possible. “It’s all about being true to yourself,” Taylor says in reference to her philosophy of singing. “So often, people feel like they have to fit in a box.”
Taylor prefers the term “vocal coach” to describe what she does with the people who come to her for lessons. She sees it as her job to coach them into getting the best sound out of their voices. “I think everybody can sing. … People who say they can’t sing just aren’t familiar with their own voice,” Taylor explains.
The recent showcase at the Bean Scene of Taylor’s student singers was an example of how good coaching helps produce capable and enthusiastic performers. Thirteen singers, from ages 7 to 61, put on a great show, singing songs from a range of genres.
Back-to-back Hilary Duff (the Britney Spears of the grade-school set) songs opened the show. Seven-year-old Shannon Duke, in her black newsboy cap, got comfortable singing “So Yesterday” after a quick look for reassurance to Taylor, who was on hand all night with encouragement and lots of cheering. The reigning Missette Butte County, pretty 9-year-old Cassidy Farrar, who came to Taylor to work on the National Anthem (which she has to sing at a number of events), sang Duff’s “Sweet Sixteen.”
Sixty-one-year-old Ray D’Agostin sweetly sang two Frank Sinatra songs. I was impressed by D’Agostin’s bravery and devotion to singing when he motioned to start the soundtrack over for “In My Loneliness” because he had gotten slightly out of synch with it and wanted to go back and do it right!
Thirteen-year-old Claire Nasr and her tiny posse of two girlfriends (on air guitar and air drums) did a sassy version of Aussie garage rock band Jet’s hit, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” Twelve-year-old Teresa Francis performed two very challenging songs from Les Misérables. All night long, I couldn’t help notice the confidence of the singers and their willingness to take on challenging material.
Olivia Van Leuven and Sophia Martinez, 20 and 15 years old, respectively, performed separately but taken together made me think, “Hey, all these girls need is a band!” Any aspiring rock band would be lucky to have one of these two fronting the group. The serenely beautiful Van Leuven’s angelic voice and stage poise were very notable when she performed two songs by UK band The Sundays, as was Martinez’s strong, beautiful, rockin’ voice on Hanson’s “A Song to Sing.”
Eleven-year-old Carly Rodriguez closed the show with a fabulous rendition of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” followed by Paul Simon’s “April Come She Will,” with an encore of “When She Loved Me,” by Randy Newman. “This is for my dad,” Rodriguez said to introduce her encore.
The night was fun and touching, and all of the students—including those I can only mention in brief: 7-year-olds Sarah Devine and Tayler Behr, 11-year-old Andrea Morales, 16-year-old Stacie Orrico (singing in French!) and local visual artist Mabrie Ormes—put on inspiring performances.