Bree is an award winning singer-songwriter from California. She was named the best Female Performer at the 2007 Inland Empire Music Awards. She has an active schedule of perfomance, but was kind enough to take time out to tell us a bit more about herself.
Happy Christmas, Bree! What does festive singing mean for you?
Singing is a huge part of our holiday tradition. My husband and I always sing with the church choir in the 11 PM Christmas Eve service and my 4 year old daughter performs in the church musical. My husband Chris and I made an acapella album back in 1997 of Christmas carols that was a gift for our family. We layered our voices, 3 on a part, so we sounded like a chamber group. We ended up duplicating 1000 copies and selling the album on the internet. The first run sold out!
I love to blow audiences away with “O Holy Night” because the melody is beautiful and the high notes always bring people to their feet. Last year I got a few standing ovations with that one. My favorite new classic to perform is “Mary Did You Know”. I even wrote a Christmas song that celebrates the joy of the season which is available for listening at my website called “It’s Christmastime”.
How did you get into singing? What’s your earliest recollection of singing?
I started singing in church musicals in elementary school, specifically the Psalty Praise musicals. My first major performance was in Grease in 7th grade when I played the part of the Teen Angel singing “Beauty School Dropout”. I went on to sing in several choirs in high school, to sing lead in a women’s barbershop quartet and enter classical singing competitions.
I got a degree in classical voice in College, but I also toured with a Christian pop and a cappella group for four years. I started writing songs and now tour as a soloist of classical and original Christian music.
Do you have a favourite composer?
I love to sing everything from classical to Broadway to pop/rock to Christian music. My favourite song is probably the Bach/Gounod “Ave Maria”, but I’d have to say Mozart is my favourite composer overall.
Who or what is your biggest musical influence?
In classical, my biggest influences are good solid lyric sopranos. There are so many really solid singers with beautiful tone who are not well-known but are hard workers.
I’m also inspired by pop singers like Sarah McLachlan, Colbie Caillat and Sara Bareilles as well as Christian singers like Sara Groves and Nichole Nordeman.
Tell us about a recent concert you performed in. What was on the programme?
My biggest performance ever was singing the National Anthem for 56,000 people at Dodger Stadium in Las Angeles last year. As for concerts, I recently performed as a featured soloist at the California Pacific United Methodist Conference. For a crowd of approx. 1500 people I was able to perform my original songs as well as treasured hymns and worship music.
Has your singing led you to be involved in any charitable work / fundraising?
I have performed at benefits for charities for the visually impaired, single moms in need and for many church organizations. I’ve also allowed organizations to place my songs on CDs sold to raise funds to help troubled youth.
What else do you do in your spare time? Do you have other pastimes or interests apart from singing?
I have an additional degree in Business and am a part-time accountant for Opera Pacific in Orange County, CA. I enjoy writing songs and collaborating with other writers. I plan and lead worship services for my church. I enjoy spending time with my husband and 4 year old daughter Julia. I love great TV drama like Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Lost, Heroes, House and The Shield. I get comic relief form watching The Daily Show and The Soup and American Idol is my guilty pleasure.
Do you have a top tip for getting the most from your voice?
Always keep your throat muscles relaxed and breathe correctly. But the best tip I can give is to practise even a little everyday. The vocal chords are muscles and need to be exercised to stay in shape. You can’t expect to run a vocal marathon on stage without preparation over time.
Imagine you are looking at a concert poster for your ultimate fantasy concert of all time: who is performing and what are they singing?
The current cast of Broadway’s Les Miserable performing that musical, or the best cast at the MET performing The Marriage of Figaro.
Have you had any professional training? Did/do you have a favourite mentor or teacher?
My music teacher at Thomas Downey High in Modesto, CA – Polly Vasche – was instrumental in getting me excited about music as a career. I studied voice at Westmont College in Santa Barbara under Janet Proodian (now teaching in Ohio). I haven’t had a formal vocal teaching for 13 years but I learned great technique in college and try to diagnose my own vocal issues.
Do you have any tips for pre-performance preparation that help steady the nerves?
Prayer is great for focus and calming if you believe in God. And… always warm up your entire vocal range.
Tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? Why do you choose to live where you do?
I grew up in Northern California in Redwood City and Modesto. I moved to Santa Barbara for school and met my husband. We moved to Irvine where he pursued his doctorate at UC Irvine in English while I worked as Director of Finance for Opera Pacific and enjoyed all the free opera I wanted. After my husband became a professor at Azusa Pacific University, we moved to San Dimas, CA. The Los Angeles area has a great deal of performing opportunities and I tour often to Northern California as well.
Visit Bree’s website: www.breenoble.com