"I've been singing professionally since I was 16. When I was a teenager, my music teacher thought I'd be a good candidate for a pageant. I didn't agree, because I'd never equated myself with a beauty pageant contestant. But I got into the pageant and ended up winning it. The irony was that I won every award except the talent one! I was a jazz singer, but my teacher had me sing "I Feel Pretty" (which I did not feel) from West Side Story. If he had just let me sing jazz, I could have won the talent portion, too."
"After the pageant I got a call from someone who'd been in the audience, asking me to audition for his band. I did, and the next day I was singing with them. Everything was a ripple effect from that: I'd be in one group and someone would hear me, and that would take me to the next thing. So I try to get my students to focus on being open to all options and broadening their horizons. If they have an opportunity to sing in someone's group, then someone else might see them and that would help them get somewhere else."
"I tell my students, 'I'm here to blow a hole in the myth that singing is easy.' But if we're well trained, we can make it look effortless. Singers are multitaskers; we have to do so many things simultaneously. We've got to breathe, we've got to read, we've got to count, we've got to interpret. And because we're interpreting, we have to use every emotion—we have to be actors. If students are going to study with me, I want them to understand that we're going to deal with the whole spectrum of their emotions. We are the voice of the composer when we sing."
"My job is to help my students through whatever style they want to sing. I try to get an idea of what each student has done to that point, and where they want to go from there. I tell my students, 'It's important that in your own mind you determine what you want to do. We are here to help you establish your goal; I can't set your path for you. I can help you start to develop your mind, to help you get there. But you have to have an idea of what you want.'"