Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Klea Blackhurst : Secrets of Successful Singing Revealed! A review of MoonSchool’s first Master Class.

Klea Blackhurst (right) with
U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg Ann Wagner
On February 5th, New York’s powerhouse singer, Klea Blackhurst, swooped into MoonSchool and taught an amazing Master Class in singing and song interpretation.  Ms. Blackhurst was the perfect choice to launch the Master Class series at 42nd Street Moon.  Klea is an experienced performer of both theatre and cabaret.  Her singing style is athletic, confident, forceful, grounded and joyous [see video below!].  Throughout the three-hour session, Klea let her skills shine without ever eclipsing the performers or forgetting that she was, indeed, there to teach.  The class was accompanied by Mr. Barry Lloyd, an accomplished musician and performer.  Klea and Barry blended beautifully as teachers and mentors.

from top left clockwise: Eliza Leoni, Julia Baron, Klea Blackhurst
Chelsea Nenni, Barry Lloyd, Jonathan Shue, Buzz Halsing,
Moon Education Director Dyan McBride, and Chloe Condon
The format was fairly simple.  Seven Bay Area performers and MoonSchool students-Seth Michael Anderson, Julia Baron, Chloe Condon, Buzz Halsing, Eliza Leoni, Chelsea Nenni and Jonathan Shue were asked to prepare a musical theatre song.  After singing, they would work with Klea on whatever she deemed important.  The audience was made up of friends, singers, teachers and those interested in learning about the process of singing.

Barry fixing rhythms and arrangements!
Each singer had approximately 15 to 20 minutes with Klea and Barry.  The technique that seemed to get the most play during the class was exploring a physicality in singing that had force and confidence.  If a singer thought they were singing with full emotion or breath, Klea helped them see that there was much more power within themselves.   Singers learned that breath is not just a casual act.  It IS singing. In Klea’s words, “Breath is the umbrella and everything else is underneath.”  Barry fixed rhythms and discussed better/different arrangements or markings in the music.

Chelsea and Klea connecting!
Other techniques that were explored were “ping” singing (forward sound), articulation of consonants for energy, using one’s gestures to help sing with confidence and Klea’s theory of mind, body and spirit as the core of singing.  Her basic philosophy being any “problem” which occurs in singing is a result of an issue in either the mind (artistry, thought, objectives/tactics, lyrics), the body (physicalization, acoustics, what you can and can’t accomplish when singing a certain song) and spirit (performance magic, being in “the zone”).  

Chelea Before working with Klea and during!

Each singer had moments of brilliance.  They were all open and playful.  Klea and Barry both remarked that they were grateful to have singers who were willing to try anything they were given.  All singers were prepared, off-book and knew what they wanted to work on.  Some wanted to connect with their body, while others wanted to re-charge a piece they’d sung for a long time.  Whatever the need, Klea and Barry worked on it and then some.  How wonderful it was to have singers and teachers that reveled in the beauty and fun of music.  Our first Master Class was a success all the way around!
Klea with Buzz

MoonSchool’s next Master Class features the return of Darren Criss. The handsome and talented star of Fox TV's hit show, Glee began his career with 42nd Street Moon!

Stay tuned for all the exciting details!