The Victoria Theatre’s “One Small Voice: Women Who Rock” project champions female singer-songwriters

Valerie Reaper will be running a singer-songwriter boot camp for Dayton-area women who rock

By Allyson Crawford

Calling all budding female singer-songwriters! The Victoria Theatre Association (VTA) wants to help foster female musical talent in the Miami Valley. The VTA is holding auditions to find up to 20 exceptional women to foster in an intensive singer-songwriter boot camp. The program, called One Small Voice: Women Who Rock, is an engagement project inspired by the Broadway show Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.

Each year the VTA selects a Broadway show for a corresponding educational project. Beautiful comes to Dayton in May.

“Carole King’s story really speaks to me,” explains Amy Handra, Assistant Director of Education and Engagement for the Victoria Theatre Association. Handra was tasked with selecting this year’s outreach project, and she really related to the story of Beautiful.

“[Carole’s] story is one of how she started as part of a team with her husband. They wrote for a lot of other incredible artists and had a lot of hits for a lot of people. Their relationship came to an end and Carole came to a crossroads and decided she was confident enough with her own voice that she was ready to perform. The music industry in particular is very male dominated and women have been fighting for equal representation and equal voice. So I was inspired by the music and that’s how the project developed. I thought ‘How can I start a project that will empower women in the Miami Valley to use their own voices to express themselves and take it to the next level?’”

That next level is learning how to write a song, from conception to completion, then recording it in a studio and possibly even performing it live. These skills, Handra believes, will help women get on the right path toward a career in music – or just enjoy an empowering experience while learning the hard skills of composition and performance.

Interested female musicians can submit their 60-90 second audition video at Registration opens on Feb. 5, 2018 at noon, and applications will be accepted through Mar. 5, 2018 at 5 p.m. No formal musical background is required. You should be able to accompany yourself in some way on your audition video, and the clip should feature original music. Accompaniment may be with an instrument or via digital means. Up to 20 women will be selected for the boot camp, and the minimum age is 13. Women from outside the Miami Valley are welcome to apply, but all those chosen to participate must commit to attend six workshop sessions.

The selected women will be coached by singer-songwriter Valerie Reaper. Reaper is a Dayton area native who now lives in New York. She is a solo artist who also performs with her band, Valerie Reaper and the Keepers.

“Valerie has a strong philosophy that anyone can write a song as long as they have the right tools,” explains Handra.  “It feels sometimes like writing music or songs is very intimidating, but with Valerie’s approach, it will be very accessible. She’s had a good musical journey herself, and she’ll be a great resource for the women to teach them about the different paths in the music industry.”

The entire program runs from Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2018 to Thursday, May 24, 2018. The bulk of the boot camp sessions will take place in mid-April. Valerie Reaper will provide sessions and private coaching, work which will culminate in a live performance in a still-to-be-determined location. The participants will record their original songs at Street Sounds Studios at the University of Dayton. The experience wraps in May with a performance of Beautiful—The Carole King Musical and a private talkback with the cast.

Still not convinced you have what it takes to be selected? Handra has some advice for fence-sitters:

“I think this project is suited for an amateur artist who really wants to express herself and just write a song… all the way through to a woman who is very serious about pursuing a musical career.”

Carole King’s message is that one small voice can change the world. If you’ve always dreamt of writing and recording music, 2018 might be the year your voice is heard.

Registration to audition runs Feb. 5 through Mar 5. For more information and complete submission rules, please visit

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical runs May 22–May 27, 2018 at the Schuster Center. Tickets start at $25. Purchase online at


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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at

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