I grew up in Guatemala and my heritage, on my father’s side, is Latin American. When I was a young girl, I used to make my friends laugh by pretending to be an opera singer. I would pose very dramatically and start singing (probably screaming!) a series of high notes. Little did I know that one day, as a teenager, I would discover that I actually could sing and that I would seriously study the art of opera singing !
I owe my first true encouragement to pursue singing to our wonderful Ocean City High School (New Jersey) Choir Director, Lewis Benzon. It was he who took me to State Choir tryouts and guided me to audition at Settlement Music School to take voice lessons. I was accepted and studied voice with Kathryn Westman. During my 2nd year of study, I won the Mario Lanza Scholarship which paid for all my lessons (this was a great relief to my single hard working mother!). During those years, I became very involved in local productions and I discovered the beautiful art of Oratorio singing when I sang the child role in Mendelssohn's Elijah.
My college years at Lenoir-Rhyne University were filled with activity as a Foreign Language major. I was an Assistant Teacher in Spanish and French, and very involved in the Acapella Choir and Theater musical productions. I played the lead roles of Lilly in "Carnival" and Aldonza/Dulcinea in "Man of La Mancha". During my Senior year I was selected as a "Who's Who in America's Colleges and University".
After college, I formed a duo group with a pianist/organist and we performed extensively at weddings, funerals, social events, oratorios, opera and musical productions. It was during this time, that I took a job as an Assistant Teacher working with special needs children. I unexpectedly developed a passion for working with these children and I returned to college to earn a teaching degree in Special Education and taught for 8 years in the public school system in NJ.
I continued to study voice with many different teachers, but felt a growing frustration with my vocal development. I had grown up listening to Renata Tebaldi, Mirella Freni, Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and my personal idol Leontyne Price. Listening to those wonderful and accomplished singers created an ideal of tone, vocal placement and manner of singing that I was not achieving. By my late twenties, I had become so frustrated that I came to the conclusion that it wasn't that I couldn't find a good voice teacher - it was I who lacked the required talent. And so, I decided to stop taking voice lessons and discontinue my pursuit of a singing career.
BUT, I must have remained hopeful because a year later I contacted a local soprano, Nancy Fox, whose voice I greatly admired - I wanted her opinion of my singing. When she heard me sing she uttered the most significant words of my life: "You need to study with my teacher, THE Maestro in New York City, Raymond Buckingham." I accompanied Nancy to her voice lesson a few weeks later and auditioned for Mr. Buckingham. After hearing me sing, his assessment of my voice and singing was as follows: "You have a very unusual soprano voice and good instincts, but you have been poorly schooled." I remember thinking, maybe there is hope after all!
And so I began a weekly travel of 2 1/2 hours (each way) to NYC to study with Mr. Buckingham and become properly schooled. Ray was not only an exceptional singer with a most sonorous and beautiful basso voice, he was also a genius at vocal development. He was a teacher's teacher with an uncanny and genius way of explaining the vocal mechanism and was well-known for developing an effective and successful technique for building voices. Norman Luboff, the great choral conductor, once said of Ray: "When he sings, he gives a voice lesson ... when he gives a voice lesson, it's a lesson on teaching." (For more about Raymond Buckingham and his teaching methods, please visit my "About Singing" page.)
Years later, I was honored to become Ray's wife. Ray was 28 years older than I and our May/December marriage was magical. Although I continued taking weekly voice lessons, I took a job in the business sector and began to successfully "climb the corporate ladder" - a singing career took a back seat. I also dedicated my time to supporting Ray in his efforts of managing the careers of select students, and assisting him with his writings. In the end, I was delighted to be a dedicated wife and "mother" to our beautiful 3 "children", our dogs - Max, Mimi and Wotan.
Then, the greatest change in our lives came about when Ray became very ill. It was a devastating illness that robbed Ray of his health, vitality and ability to continue teaching full time. During the last 6 years of his life, I became his nursemaid, moral support, and caretaker. As you can well imagine, any efforts at my singing were no longer a priority. With Ray's passing on July 14, 2003 a most brilliant and wonderful light left my world - darkness followed.
It had been over 12 years of vocal silence when a wonderful man by the name of Richard Sanzen entered my life. During a fun night out, he convinced me to get up and sing Karaoke at a local bar. When he heard me sing, he said he was astounded by my voice and in that moment decided to dedicate himself to get me to sing again. With his encouragement, perseverance, unwaivering support, and guidance I have recorded 2 CDs: "Enchanted" and "Kiss Me/Besame".
IT FEELS GREAT TO SING AGAIN !!!
The songs that make my heart sing are inspirational songs and classic songs from the Golden Age of Broadway. Richard and I have decided to make it our personal goal to keep these classic songs alive in a musical world that has left them behind and seemingly forgotten them. Please join us as we re-awaken others to this beautiful music sung in classical-crossover style.
This CD was recorded as a tribute to Raymond Buckingham and the sequence of songs tells the story of our special, unique and loving relationship and marriage. The selections on this CD are a combination of Love songs and Inspirational songs sung in a classical/crossover style of singing. In addition to honoring Ray, we hope to keep these beautiful songs alive:
1. Some Enchanted Evening 2. Ebb Tide 3. If I Loved You 4. The Last Man in My Life 5. I Believe 6. Climb Every Mountain 7. You Raise Me Up 8. You'll Never Walk Alone 9. The Impossible Dream 10. O Mio Babbino Caro 11. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again 12. The Lord's Prayer
"Kiss Me/Besame" Album
This musical project was fun, exciting, and artistically rewarding which allowed me to expand my vocal ability with different styles, rhythms, languages and genres.
1. Besame Mucho 2. Summertime 3. Hallelujah 4. Caruso 5. Granada 6. And I Love You So 7. I Could Have Danced All Night 8. Broken Vow 9. Somos Novios 10. 'Till There Was You 11. Nessun Dorma. 12. Over The Rainbow/Wish Upon A Star Medley Bonus Track: If We Only Have Love
"O Holy Night" - Single
Join me in celebrating the beauty of the Christmas season with O Holy Night.