I’ve been searching for some blogging inspiration for the past few days and thought about all of the things I love in life – food, travel, music – when I realized it’s been some time since I wrote a musical post – musical theatre to be exact. So today, I decided to write about several female vocalists who, over the years, have inspired me to sing and perform. There are so many divas who graced the stage and have impacted the musical theater world, but these divas below are the ones who impacted me the most. I encourage you to listen to all of these performances, each better than the next.
Lea Salonga – It’s safe to say Lea Salonga is the reason I fell in love with musical theater and singing. I can still remember watching the Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert special when I was very young and crying when my parents told me we couldn’t see it live because it had already been taped. I always asked to rewind the girl singing “On My Own” because I loved her voice and honesty behind it (see below). Lea is also the voice behind iconic Disney songs like Reflection from Mulan and A Whole New World from Aladdin, among many other things, including Kim in Miss Saigon (watch her audition here). Thank you Lea for sharing your voice with us.
Ruthie Henshall – Another performer from the Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert special (can you tell I’m obsessed with this concert already?). In my book, Ruthie is the best Fantine ever. I’ve never heard a voice quite like hers, and I’ve never heard this song below sung with both more pain and hope then when she sings it. When Ruthie and Lea sing the Epilogue together in harmony (skip to 6:20), absolute perfection.
Natalie Weiss – I first heard this fellow Nittany Lion (WE ARE) sing from her recording “How to Return Home“, a beautifully haunting song which was only made more amazing by her voice. I had to know who she was and what else she sang. There’s a million amazing performances of her, but I’m sharing this one of her singing Ed Sheeran‘s “Thinking Out Loud” because the beginning shows just how great her personality is #YAS. And if you’re looking to improve your own vocal technique, check out Natalie’s Breaking Down the Riffs YouTube series.
Sherie Rene Scott – I had the honor and pleasure of working with Sherie’s vocal coach last summer. I’ve always admired and loved listening to Sherie, and imagine my luck when I saw her perform at 54 Below right after a lesson with her coach. I also saw her as Ursula in “The Little Mermaid“; amazing. Here she is singing my fav song from Aida with two other Broadway greats, Adam Pascal and Heather Headley. We are happy to hear that Sherie will be in The Last Five Year’s film (even though she should be Cathy).
Idina Menzel – You most likely know Miss Menzel from playing the role of Elsa in Frozen but oh is she so much more than that, so much more. Before there was Frozen, there was Wicked, Chess, and of course, Rent. Idina is a huge inspiration for any theater kid, very much like myself. How often would we be in the car blasting “Defying Gravity” and trying to hit the notes in “bring me down” but failing miserably.
Audra McDonald – When I first heard her sing “Your Daddy’s Son“, I had CHILLS and I currently have CHILLS right now listening to it. When people have an emotional experience during a performance, this is what they’re talking about. Audra is an all-star performer and she has the six Tony’s to prove it (more than any other actor). Audra is the performer that kids dream of emulating.
Barbra Streisand – And of course, Ms. Babs herself. I think I can speak for every show kid when I say “Don’t Rain on My Parade” changed our lives for the better. But it’s this song below that really made fall in love with Babs and with the jazz-ier side of Broadway. I actually sang it for my first voice recital ever, and performed “Don’t Rain on My Parade” at my last. Babs came full circle for me.