Women rockers sing out

T he Victoria Theatre Association (VTA) is helping the musical dreams of a select group of women come true.  Earlier this year, the VTA held auditions for 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. […]

“One Small Voice” musical boot camp conclusion is Beautiful


Chloe Parks (right) receiving coaching and suggestions from the class and instructor Valerie Reaper (left).

 

By Allyson B. Crawford

The Victoria Theatre Association (VTA) is helping the musical dreams of a select group of women come true.  Earlier this year, the VTA held auditions for 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.

After auditions, nearly two-dozen women were selected to learn the ins and outs of writing and recording original music. Musician Valerie Reaper, now a New Yorker but originally a local and alum of Wright State University, served as mentor and head cheerleader for the group of aspiring female singers.

The VTA received 42 applications for the program.  From that group, a panel of six judges culled the group down to 22 women. The selected women range in age from 14 to 55, providing a true intergenerational experience.

Reaper worked with the women for a week, getting them ready for the stage and the studio and helping them understand basic fundamentals of both. In the end, Reaper realized the workshop was less about the technical aspects of songwriting and more about the emotional strength needed to perform while in a vulnerable state. For someone new to the stage, performing is hard enough. Performing an original work when you’ve never written a song before is even more daunting.

“The thing that each of the women needed was just someone to come in and say, ‘your voice deserves to be heard. You have something to say. Be good to yourself. You can do this,’” explains Reaper. “They just needed to be told it’s okay to want what you want… to want to do music. You can make money doing this. Music can be a career. You are capable of making this whatever you want it to be and you deserve
to be heard.”

For Reaper, being “good to yourself” means talking yourself up the same way you would your best friend. Don’t diminish your skills and abilities. And above all else, do what makes you happy.

Chelley Seibert is one of the women selected for the program. A retired Dayton police officer, Seibert studied music in college but chose to go another way professionally. Still she says she remained a “closeted singer and songwriter” and is a member of the long-standing local duo Frozen Feet. Women Who Rock was a chance for Seibert to branch out and focus more on songwriting and work toward her ultimate goal of someday writing a Broadway musical.

“Valerie shares the same love of musical theatre and was really able to teach me the specific musical sounds of Broadway verses radio-play pop music and subtle differences between the two,” explains Seibert. “The workshop she provided was an excellent tutorial, describing the songwriter’s journey from inspiration, to music theory, to live performance, to recording [plus] copyright law and marketing. She really provided the full package from beginning to end of the music business process.”

Fellow workshop participant Megan Valle concurs.

“[Valerie] was great! She is an alum of the Wright State musical theatre program, where I just graduated from. So I was able to talk to her about her process and how she got to where she is right now. She had great advice about how to find your creative voice as well as technical advice on music.”

After the week-long intensive workshop, the women performed for friends and family and then recorded their newly crafted original songs at Street Sounds Studios at the University of Dayton.

Because Women Who Rock was inspired by Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, the women will also attend one of the performances and also perform during intermission throughout the run. The group will also perform on Courthouse Square on May 23rd to pay tribute to the show.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the early life and career of Carole King. King was part of a writing team with her husband. After they divorced, she decided she was a strong enough musician to write and perform on her own. King is one of the most successful female songwriters of all time and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame and is a four-time Grammy winner.

Beautiful debuted in 2013 and features many hit songs such as “So Far Away,” “I Feel The Earth Move,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Beautiful” and many more. Tickets start at $26 and some discounts are available. Purchase at the Victoria Theatre box office or online at TicketCenterStage.com.

Valerie Reaper will release her first full-length solo album later this month. It will be available via iTunes and Spotify.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will be presented at The Schuster Center, 1 West Second St., Dayton from May 22 through May 27. For tickets or more information, call 937.228.3630, or visit ticketcenterstage.com.

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About Allyson B. Crawford

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

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