THE SINGERS CLUB: ‘A SNAP SHOT INTO THE LIFE OF A MUSICIAN’
A short series of articles featuring interviews with musicians and performers. Thank you for being involved and sharing your stories!
Today’s Guest: Glenys Vargas
Please give us an overview of who you are/ what you do and how long you’ve been a professional musician?
I’m a Jazz singer from New York City. My Jazz band is called Glenys Vargas + Gotham Jazz Project.
I started in dance and theatre as a child, then started singing as a teenager. I was 13 when I first appeared on stage in a musical. I’ve performed in off-Broadway musicals in NYC, US Regional theatre, US National tours and European tours. As an actress I also did film and TV. I’d say that being a performer in NYC opens you up to a variety of work including modeling, voice-over work, and public speaking. One of the last things I did in NYC prior to moving to Europe, was to play the muppet, Dalia the Librarian on Sesame Street where I sang with Elmo.
Would you consider your self part time/ full time musician – do you do anything else job wise?
I’m a full-time performer who also spends time developing other artistic endeavors such as painting, writing, voice-over work, and fashion design. I am a multifaceted creative person so I don’t limit myself to one thing. I also believe in passing on your craft, so I do vocal coaching as well.
How did you get to the point of making music your job?
I think that when you have something inside you that you must do or otherwise explode, then that is the only possible outcome.
Do you travel a lot for your music job? Where has music taken you geographically?
I have performed in hundreds of cities, within over 20 countries on 3 continents. I love to travel and singing has taken me around the world.
Did you train in school or ever receive lessons/ take exams to do what you do now?
I started studying dance at 3 years old. I was in a professional academy for theatre and dance at 13. I then got professional voice training in NYC and have had various private vocal coaches. Every singer has a voice, but you do not know what you can do with your instrument until you study.
Can you remember some of the very first steps you took to becoming a professional singer?
I studied and eventually got audition material ready. I went to auditions and got a job. I learned by doing. I learned from other professionals including fellow performers, musicians, directors and even the audience, because they show you when they feel you. I’ll never forget singing my solo song in the musical Hair. I was the role of Crissy and sang Frank Mills. We were in a giant stadium with thousands of people. My song was the only song in the show with no other actors on stage and just a spotlight. The audience had lighters that they swayed them to the rhythm of the song. It was amazing to see thousands of twinkling lights as I sang. This feeling has stayed with me throughout my life. I keep taking steps and stumble forward but always working towards making the audience feel you.
Did anyone’s advice really resonate with you when you were starting out and do you mind sharing it. Also; is there anything you learnt early on that has stayed with you during your career?
No, no one’s advice stands out. But there are ideas that became clear to me throughout and this is what I always kept in mind.
It’s a numbers game. The more auditions you go to, the more opportunities you’ll have. Also, always be you. Jobs will come and go and enjoy each experience, but don’t lose yourself. You don’t want a temporary experience to change the core of the person you are and you especially don’t want to come back home so different that your loved ones don’t recognize you. So be you and be true to yourself.
What are some scales/ warm ups you do when gigging? Is there anything else you do to prepare for a performance?
I always warm up the entire voice from the lowest notes to the highest. A lot of people concentrate on the highs, but your lows should be smooth and warm and your break should be warmed up too. I also do enunciating exercises to make sure the words are being understood.
What equipment have you invested in to become a professional musician?
I have my own mic, mic cord, mic stand, tablet, audio editing software, M-Audio and a small keyboard. There are other things I’d like to add to these things and eventually I will.
Are you doing your dream job now – where else would you love to get to with your career?
I’m new to Luxembourg so I still need to do more networking in order to book more gigs here. I’d like to continue doing gigs all over the world…just more of them. Right now, my next gig is in Italy. I’d like to get more gigs here in the meantime.
What is an aspect that you feel is not considered enough when people are starting out with gigging/taking their singing to a professional level that you think would benefit them?
Do you know what you are singing? I see this especially in Europe where singers will sing songs in another language, mainly English, but don’t actually know what they are singing. They get the pronunciation wrong, or it sounds like gibberish or there’s no feeling because the words mean nothing to them. Sing in your language and if you want to sing in another language, practice the pronunciation with a native speaker AND learn what you are saying. Feel those words, even if those are the only words you know in that language.
Share with us – one of the highlight’s or great memory you have from your career to date?
When I performed at Eurovision as a backing singer, I met singers from all over the world. The fans and journalists followed us even though we were just the backing singers. They were really supportive and when the contest was over, they were still there. I got involved in music festivals and created a hip/pop duo with a London rapper. It was great to create new music and bring it to an audience in an entirely different country. These fans and journalists from Eurovision became our supporters and we appreciate them so much. I would still love to perform at Eurovision as it’s one of the most exciting experiences to have. But performing at international music festivals was also incredible.
For a bit of fun – tell us about when something went really wrong – and what you learnt from it?
Sometimes you fall. I have fallen on stage 3 times. When you are on stage doing choreography with elaborate costumes and sometimes in heels, you will probably fall at least once. One time, someone’s costume went right under my foot as I stepped and I fell flat on my face. The other two times my heel caught in the hem of my costume. Each and every time, I went with the flow. I had bloody knees but it didn’t matter. The show must go on.
I danced or stayed in character and made it look like part of the show. Each time, my fellow cast mates asked if my choreography had been changed, because it looked so natural. That’s what you do. You fall, you get up. And if you can’t get up, which I couldn’t twice, you make it work until you can…which is exactly what I did.
If you could offer advice to someone starting out.. what would you tell them?
Don’t do it. Go study medicine, law or finance. This isn’t for you. Forget about it. Seriously, I’mnot joking. I wouldn’t wish this life on my worst enemy!
Only those who do it anyway deserve it.
This life isn’t for everyone. Most people wouldn’t survive.
If you feel you will die if you don’t sing…then and only then should you continue.
Everyone else can enjoy it as a hobby.
If you could offer advice to someone starting out.. what would you tell them?
Go support your local artists and the artists you know.
People will spend money on Beyoncé, Ariana Grande or Bruno Mars, but before they were big, they were local artists in their towns. Go like the pages, and go to the concerts of the artists in your town. Show us your support. Share our videos.
We need your support.
And if you see us perform and enjoyed it, call the location and let them know.
Finally, where can we find your music/pages online?
Official Website: www.glenysvargas.com
Writer Profile: https://vargassorrentino.wordpress.com/
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