Syracuse University Magazine

Signature Voices

OK, first off, I can’t sing to save my life. I was an elementary school chorus dropout in fourth grade and never got on track. Even during the singing of the National Anthem at countless events, I’m committed to not getting overly enthusiastic in a crowd and exposing my inability to hit any note with any kind of regularity.

That, however, has never hindered my appreciation for folks with fantastic chops. In this issue, you’ll learn about the celebrated choral ensembles that perform under the guidance of the Setnor School of Music’s choral activities program in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). There’s also a profile of drama major Austin Holmes ’16, a talented singer and actor who performed in Syracuse Stage’s Hairspray and has an album to his credit.

Of course one’s voice extends beyond the realm of song. We give voice to issues and voice personal opinions. There’s also the process of discovery among writers, artists, and others that’s often called “finding your voice.” For some, this signature of individual expression comes naturally. For others, it requires tinkering, experimentation, and hard work. The trick is to strip away the false starts, razzmatazz, posturing, and pontificating and uncover the authentic voice in residence, the one that may initially be shy, begging to be left alone, or sluggish because it’s never been dusted off for a good workout. Once that voice finds its footing and comes into its own, you can only hope its creator recognizes it, seizes it, nurtures it, and develops it to full potential.

One voice can make a world of difference—not only for its creator and those who may relish the message, but also for those who are left outraged or flabbergasted by it. Either way, the voice connects creator and audience, giving life to an idea from, perhaps, a previously unconsidered perspective.

This exchange of perspectives is what keeps things interesting and flowing in our lives, personally and professionally. In offering advice to young artists and other professionals, VPA alumnus Chris Renaud ’89, executive producer of the wildly successful Minions, says it’s important to keep your perspective, your voice. “What you have to say and how you say it is the one thing that makes you different,” he says. “Stay true to that, because at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that makes you unique in a sea of very talented people.”

Who can argue with that career advice? Develop that voice and let it be heard.

Jay Cox