Sarah Hornon Life After Surprise Duet with Kristin Chenoweth
A mere week ago, Riverside voice teacher Sarah Horn munched on cheese and crackers, quietly enjoying Kristin Chenoweth’s concert near the front row of the Hollywood Bowl. She had ended up in the spot after a series of fortuitous seat changes and years of privately performing show tunes in her room. A few days later, Horn became an internet sensation.
The stars aligned when Chenoweth randomly selected someone from the audience to sing “For Good” from the musical Wicked. At first, the vivacious starlet chose someone who didn’t know the song, but soft-spoken Horn lost her inhibitions, stood up, and shouted, “I know the song!”
But Horn didn’t just “know” the song, as the popular YouTube video reveals. She and the Broadway veteran performed a rendition of the song, replete with harmony, leaving the audience [at the Bowl and watching from their computers] agape.
Did Horn rehearse for that performance? In a way, she did. It wasn’t with Kristin Chenoweth, but she had prepared for this moment by practicing the song, and training her voice for years. We were lucky enough to exchange words with this inspirational teacher about her experience, her future, and her advice to aspiring singers.
Q & A with Sarah
Molly’s Music: In another interview, you mentioned that you’re quite soft-spoken, and not the type of person to blurt something out to a celebrity. What made you exclaim you know the song?
Sarah Horn: I acted before I thought. This is also very unlike me. I didn’t realize what I had done until I was already on my feet, waving my arm and shouting, “I KNOW THE SONG!” to a celebrity in front of thousands of people at the Hollywood Bowl. So, I’d say it was more of a gut reaction. I had sung “For Good” hundreds of times in the privacy of my own room, singing over Idina’s voice on the Original Broadway Cast recording of Wicked to harmonize with Kristin. Singing this song with her live was a dream come true.
MM: In your account on Broadway World, You had said you made several seat changes, and that your dad had prayed for you to sing with Kristin Chenoweth several years earlier. Do you believe in fate? Or do you view this as a wonderful coincidence?
Horn: I view this evening as a Divine Coincidence. There were too many coincidences that lead to not only those seats but to me being as prepared as I was. No person planned what happened that night. It had to be a God thing.
MM: You seemed so composed on stage. How did you keep it together in such an impromptu situation? Any tips for students who would rather sink into their chairs than volunteer themselves to meet and perform with their role models?
Horn: Friday night’s luck happened because preparation met opportunity. If I had not been prepared, magic would never have happened on stage that night. As I tell my kids I teach at Riverside Youth Theatre: Don’t practice until you get it right; practice until you can’t get it wrong. My advice to my fellow introverts: Moving forward always requires some level of risk. How badly do you want it?
MM: What type of vocal pedagogy did you study and what methodologies do you teach?
Horn: I got my masters at California Baptist University, where I currently teach, and I studied under the incredible Betty Olsson who has trained me up in the Bel Canto style. It is because of her training that my voice was able to handle that song Friday evening without warming up AND after eating half a block of cheese which, to those who don’t know, is very bad for the voice.
MM: How does it feel to be getting so much media attention? What future events do you have lined up?
Horn: All of the media attention is pleasantly overwhelming. I would never have asked for this kind of attention in a million years but now that I have it, I’m trying to be a good steward of what I’ve been given and enjoy each step along the way. My next appearance will be at the Hollywood Bowl on September 8th where I will be judging their ABBA Fest ABBA-Capella sing off as well as possibly performing (details to come). For more information, please visit facebook.com/sarahhornmusic for other details on what’s coming up for me next.
MM: Before this event, had you been pursuing performance or auditioning for roles? Do you think that will change? Are you going to continue teaching?
Horn: Before all this hit, teaching was my priority and I got my theatre fix doing small, community theatre productions. I would Love to get the opportunity to perform musically and theatrically with high-caliber performers on Broadway and in LA. I really don’t know what the future holds. As of this semester, I have plans to balance my performing with teaching. I believe that performing more will polish me for my students. I don’t know if my 15 minutes of fame will soon be over, so I will take advantage of what I can, but I will never forget my students. They will leave a longer legacy than I ever will.
MM: If you could play two roles in any Broadway shows from any era, what would they be and why?
Horn: I would love to sing the part of Christine in Phantom of the Opera. Despite what people may think from watching the “For Good” video, I am in fact a first soprano. The role of Fiona in Shrek (which I’m currently working on with Riverside Youth Theatre) looks very fun as well!
MM: Any last pieces of advice to students pursuing a future in singing
Horn: Invest in your talent and hone it into a skill. Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. As I said earlier and as all my RYT would tell you, don’t just practice until you get it right; practice until you can’t get it wrong.