2012 Twenty Questions Interviews : Elisa Brown
Interview with Elisa Brown
Classical Soprano, Peace Seeker
1. What's your name?
2. Where are you from?
3. Where are you today?
New York City.
4. What do you do? (Elevator speech)
I am a classically trained soprano and have dedicated my career to helping others through song.
5. What's your story (how did you get here)?
Practice. Practice. Practice. No kidding. I sing and study and do physical exercises every day. Classical singing requires the use of as many muscles as swimming the breast stroke. This is not something that can be done haphazardly or sporadically. It requires great discipline and a daily commitment to excellence. I was blessed to have a great voice teacher from the outset: Maria Powell.
Miss Powell instilled in me the qualities that are needed to pursue a career as a professional singer. After studying with Miss Powell, I decided to attend The Cleveland Institute of Music. I became passionate about mastering music theory so that I could analyze my music. I continue to study history to understand the environment in which compositions were written. I study foreign languages and their respective cultures to understand the nuance of each word. I study acting and stage craft and basically try to learn everything I can about creating, performing and producing a show from the ground up.
6. Why is music important to you?
Music plays such an important role in our lives — in houses of worship, political rallies, sporting events, social functions, and many other places. For me, music is food for our souls, cutting through the chaos of the world and guiding us to fulfill a higher purpose to make the world a better place in which to live and flourish as a culture.
7. When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
When I was eight (8) years old, I switched from private schooling to a public education at Rheinhardt Elementary School in East Dallas. This was tough transition for me because I was born with a wandering right eye and significant vision problems such that my new classmates shied away from me because of my disability. The only place where I shined, as it were, was in my music class.
My music teacher, Mrs. Kramer, gave me a book entitled The Faith of Helen Keller and told me that she hoped the book would encourage me to find a way to share my gift of singing with the world. Not long thereafter, Mrs. Kramer arranged for me to perform two solo pieces for the Texas Music Educatorsí Association at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, Texas. I sang from my heart to the hearts of everyone in attendance. It was then that I realized I could make a difference in the world through song. I still have The Faith of Helen Keller; Mrs. Kramer changed my life with that book.
8. How did you embrace it?
I decided to become a professional singer and share my voice with others.
9. How did that feel?
I was very certain of my choice and just accepted it as a matter of fact. I was, and continue to be, very driven.
10. Where has your journey taken you?
My solo debut in New York City was with The New York Bach Aria Society. The performance occurred during a blizzard and, therefore, the audience was practically non-existent. Since all the artists were already on stage from the dress rehearsal, we opened the doors to the auditorium and performed for homeless people. It was one of the most special performances of my life.
I created, produced and performed in a show on Off-Broadway called Spirito e Core. Kenneth Cooper conducted from the harpsichord. Dr. Cooper performed in the above-mentioned performance with The New York Bach Aria Society. I have been friends with Dr. Cooper and his family ever since. In fact, his wife, Josephine Mongiardo Cooper, was my first voice teacher here in the New York City.
I have performed extensively throughout South America and Spain for UNESCO and other philanthropic organizations on behalf of The Zaraspe Foundation to raise monies for the less fortunate around the world. Maestro Zaraspe attended my Off-Broadway show at the invitation of the director. Thatís how we met.
I co-arranged my first CD, THE AVE MARIA EXPERIENCE, with Grammy winning producer and renowned sound healer Barry Goldstein in 2010. We have since performed together at some wonderful philanthropic functions and co-arranged/co-wrote a second album, NEW WORLD, that I released this Fall.
I made my Carnegie Hall solo debut with The New York Womenís Ensemble in a concert at Stern-Perelman auditorium benefiting Children of the Night, a LA-based not-for-profit that has rescued over 10,000 children from the ravages of child prostitution since 1979.
On September 29, 2012, I premiered two songs from my latest CD, NEW WORLD, at the first UN 2012 International Day of Peace Concert in Linzhou, Henan Province, China, singing songs of peace and hope to an audience of 10,000 Chinese people, many of whom walked 20 miles to attend this inaugural event.
11. What challenges have you faced?
Upon moving to New York City, I lived the not-at-all-glamorous life of the starving artist for quite a few years. My facility with languages, coupled with the office skills I learned while working for my fatherís business, helped me to get a job in marketing that would pay for my Ďvocal habit.í I sang in some fairly run down venues before my perseverance paid off and I started getting steady singing jobs with a few vocal chamber ensembles.
12. What worked for you?
My work ethic. I endeavor to be super dependable as well as capable. This approach gets me recommended for jobs vs. auditioning for them. I baby my voice and donít overuse or abuse it. I always show up early to a rehearsal, dressed appropriate to the occasion. I know my part and am very familiar with everyone elseís part as well. I follow instructions and voice any concerns privately to the person in charge or not at all.
13. What didn't work for you?
Getting worked up about the outcome of auditions guarantees that I donít get the job. I have since learned to think of it as a mini performance. Once itís done, itís done.
14. What three tips can you share with those starting on a similar path?
[Read Elisa's inspiring personal story behind the creation of the NEW WORLD CD.]
16. What's coming up for you in the next year?
I am scheduled to perform in a series of opening exhibitions for the Peace Angels Project, a non-profit organization started by artist Lin Evola. Ms. Evola transforms decommissioned stainless steel nuclear missile casings, destroyed land mines and illicit small arms into symbols of love and peace to interrupt the cycle of violence and actualize change on a local, regional and national basis.
17. What else do you desire/dream to do?
I would like to sing songs from NEW WORLD in a worldwide television broadcast.
18. How will you make that happen?
I am working with other artists who are promoting peace in our time and believe that these relationships will allow this desire to come to fruition.
19. What question would you like to be asked (or are just itching to answer) that's not on this list?
In the beginning, what do you do when you arenít being hired for work?
20. What's your Web site address?