Artist: Mylea Thompson
How did the Women's Club of York show come about? The Women's Club of York is not sponsoring me. Most people think that because people rarely get into the space. I have performed in there before. I've seen performances in there. It was a stellar venue I thought would be perfect for my concert, so I called and asked and they had an available space.
What attracted you to that space? It's a row house. You look at it (and) it looks like a house. When you walk into it, it looks like a house. When you go to the back of the house, it opens up into a theater (that) seats between 150 to 200 people. And it has afull stage. That's a pretty amazing thing. It's just beautiful.
How did you get interested in music? When I was younger - I guess around
8 or 9 - my mom took me to go see "The Wiz" in Los Angeles. It was in a big ... theater, and I saw Stephanie Mills and her voice filled the entire theater. That's where I first got the bug. My mom got me voice lessons after that. In school, I did plays. I did musicals. I was in every choir (and) auditioned for every solo. When I got older (and moved to) Virginia, I sang with the Virginia Symphony Chorus and I sang with the York Symphony Chorus when I moved here.
What brought you to York? I had friends who lived up here. I lived in Virginia, and then I was in Baltimore for a minute. People said that York was ... tranquil. So, I said "OK. Let's try something new." I moved in July, and I auditioned for the chorus in September. They picked me and that was it. So, York has been my home since 2003.
Were you surprised that York had a chorus? Yes, because Baltimore didn't have one at the time. To come to a smaller city (that) had that was surprising.
When did you start to learn about opera? A friend of mine invited me to see the symphony orchestra in Norfolk, Va. The symphony chorus is about 120 people all singing with a symphonic orchestra, which is gorgeous. When I heard them singing and people singing solos in those pieces, it (was) just too beautiful for words. That's when I got hooked (and) I sought out the Academy of Music in Norfolk. That's where I started my training.
How is singing opera harder than other genres? It's not that it's difficult; it's disciplined. When I tell someone that I sing opera or that I'm classically trained (some) will mimic (an opera singer). People never really know how hard you work to make the sound that you hear. By no means is it stand up and sing. A lot of people don't believe that I sing opera, so when they meet me they'll say something like, "Well, sing something." I'm not a car; you can't just turn me on. You have to warm up before you sing those high notes. Even the softest notes take work. It is challenging, and I love it.
Who were your inspirations? Maybe the only opera I heard when I was younger (was in) cartoons. You hear beautiful music in cartoons, and you never really realize where the music comes from until you get older and you hear it. When I started with the Virginia Symphony Chorus and the York Symphony Chorus and (heard) those songs that they put behind "Tom and Jerry" ... that's when I learned what it was and scope of it. I didn't start learning opera until I was in college. I learned jazz first.
What music will you sing on Feb. 2? It's not a blend of styles ... within songs. I wish I could do that. It is jazz and a couple of R&B songs and then the end will be the arias. I love Ella (Fitzgerald). I love her style. I don't sound like Ella. I sing jazz like Ella. I sing opera like Leontyne Price. But I don't sound like them. The show ... is just to share with people that you can do that thing that you most want to do in your life. You should bring that dream out and you should work towards it. It will bring you joy. Work is necessary. But if we're lucky enough, we get to do what we love to do. I just was fearful that people would not love me when I sang. Fear can stop you from moving forward in a lot of areas in your life. It's never too late. I am going to be 46 on Feb. 2. My birthday is the day of the concert. It is the best way to celebrate. My family is coming (from) out of town. It's going to be a wonderful celebration ... and what I've been talking about since I was a little girl.
Anything else coming up for you? I plan to have another concert in July. I don't yet know what that one will be. I am also a fiber artist. I make quilts and fiber arts. I love it. Opera is gorgeous and I'm really hoping that I can ... do the genre justice and people will love it or at least appreciate it. I would just like to sing and pursue that. I honestly want to study abroad so, I'm going to work on that next.
- ERIN McCRACKEN,
If you go
Vocalist Mylea Thompson will perform jazz, R&B, Broadway and opera tunes during a winter concert at the Women's Club of York,
228 E. Market St., York. The show is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 2. Jazz pianist Kirk Reese will accompany Thompson, a Los Angeles native who has studied opera.
The evening will conclude with a reception. Tickets are $35 and $60 per pair. For details and tickets, visit www.myleathompson.com or call 717-758-8296.
Listen to the interview at flipsidepa.com.