I began my performance career as a dancer. However, as much as I love dancing, music has always been my first and most enduring love. I started singing in a choir in 4th grade, and by 5th grade, I was performing as a featured singer in full theatrical productions directed by Don Ward in San Diego’s arts and recreations programs. “Coach” Bonnie Gore was his collaborator, and to work with those two “pros” was a privilege. To this day, I credit my sense of theatrical discipline to my training under them. They corralled herds of children and produced stellar shows.
I began writing songs in high school, and as much as I love singing, there is a magic to bringing together a well-crafted lyric with a memorable melody. I strive to do this every time I write. Some of my songs have been sung by other singers at their request, and that is the greatest honor. My first CD, Working Without a Net includes songs that combine the style of jazz and the relational storytelling of musical theatre. In addition to writing for small vocal groups, church choirs, and individual performers, I write for musical theatre and film.
As a singer, I have been privileged to work with Shirley Jones, Randy Sparks and the Backporch Majority, arranger and jazz artist Jack Quigley, former organist for “The Lawrence Welk Show” Bob Ralston, gifted musician Marla Jones, musical director Steven Applegate, musical arranger Al Walker, and Michelle Hendricks (daughter of John). One of the most challenging aspects of my musical career has been to develop my cabaret performances to include show tunes, jazz standards, and my original songwriting. One of my most unusual singing jobs was to be a pit singer for Promises, Promises at the La Mirada Theatre under the direction of Steven Gothold. One of my favorite experiences was to work with a talented ensemble in a remarkable show called, Irving Berlin, Tonight in Palm Springs. One of these amazing professionals was Suzanne LaRusch; a sexy blonde who danced in the show and choregraphed it. She went on to make her mark performing as Lucille Ball...who knew?
While I have studied voice with several talented teachers, two come to mind as being the most essential to my development as a vocalist: Irene Humphrey (Mary Martin and Marni Nixon were among her devotees), and jazz artist Sunny Wilkinson. Their approaches were in contrast yet they complemented each other in some intangible way. Most of my training comes from singing in excellent choirs under gifted directors, which has led to my directing of choral groups and small singing groups. I cannot imagine not singing with and directing choirs as some of my most satisfying musical experiences have been creating song with others.
Vanessa is a member of BMI.