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Student Spotlight

Drew D.

If you’ve ever worked with Drew or watched her perform, the most obvious thing to say about her is that she has an unbelievably good voice. In fact, she was told this personally just a few weeks ago by the music director of the Broadway musical Hamilton, when she did a workshop in New York. At the recitals she does with us, you’ll hear people murmur, “wow!” when she starts singing. Drew has a giant, awe-inspiring belt, but she can shift gears and sound just as at home in a light mixed voice or a ringing Phantom of the Opera-esque head voice. She’s also one of the most down to earth, humble people you could meet, and you’d never see that voice coming from talking to her. Drew is currently a freshman at Academy of the Arts (APA) in Huntington Beach in the musical theatre program and already has an extensive musical theatre resume.

Q & A with Drew

MM: How did you get started singing and performing, and how long have you been at it?

DD: I started singing and learning music ever since I could speak. I started in those fun Mommy and Me music classes and have been going at it ever since. Performing wise, I performed in my first musical, which was Oliver, when I was four.

MM: How do you share your music with others? What’s your favorite performance so far?

DD: I really try to do the YouTube thing (it’s a lot harder than it seems!) but I only upload every once and while. I also upload quite a bit of singing on my Instagram. My favorite performance so far has been when I sang “Sign, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder in a show choir performance. I was horribly sick and could barely sustain a note, but my friends supported me through it all and it ended up being really good. That just goes to show you that a performance doesn’t need to sound great to be fun!

MM: You have an unbelievably good voice. Are you interested in pursuing singing or performing as a career?

DD: Yes! I hope to be on Broadway someday or teach music as a career.

MM: What makes you keep up your practice, and what are your top goals?

DD: Knowing that there is always something to improve on makes me want to keep practicing. It’s always important to strive for something better. My main goal is to get accepted into New York University and major in Vocal Performance with a concentration in musical theatre and Vocal Pedagogy. Musical theatre, above all else, has been my main passion for practically my whole life. I am also interested in Music Therapy, for it combines some of my favorite things together: music, helping others, and psychology! No matter what path I choose to take, without a doubt it’ll be related to music.

MM: What are your favorite musicals?

DD: It’s too hard to choose! I’m quite fond of the “Andrew Lloyd Webber” age of musicals so musicals from the early 80’s to the late 90s. I love Evita, (which I recently just performed in at Golden West College) Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Rent, the list goes on. As for newer musicals, I love Hamilton, The Last Five Years, Anastasia, Hadestown, and The Great Comet of 1812. As you can see, I’m kind of a sucker for historical musicals.

MM: Do you have a favorite role that you’ve played? And what’s your dream role?

DD: One of my favorite roles I’ve played has been Rafiki in The Lion King. I loved the costume and being able to sing “Circle of Life” every show. Although, I’m not going to lie, I find that the most fun shows have been when I’ve been in ensemble. Lots of people ask me why, like but that’s just the background? Or, But you don’t get that much stage time? But that’s not true at all! The cast in a show is like a charm bracelet (strange I know but hear me out). The principal leads are the charms, beautiful and great on their own but when you add the chain it holds it all together. The ensemble is the chain, the true backbone of the show! As for my dream role, I will say it until the day I die, Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray.

MM: Tell us about APA! How are you enjoying it so far? What are the classes like? Any favorites?

DD: APA is super fun! I’ve gotten a lot of experience in shows and being onstage. I take a musical theatre class and a dance class for PE credits. I have to say my favorite class has to be dance. I’m no dancer by any means but I take specifically a tap technique class so I get to make music with my feet. I probably would have never discovered a passion for tap dancing without APA.

MM: Tell us about your experience in New York!!

DD: I went to NYC with my former show choir for their annual tour (last year we went to Nashville, this year NYC). We saw Mean Girls, Frozen, and Hamilton on Broadway; and after Mean Girls one of our chaperones is a good friend of one of the performers and was able to get us backstage! Kyle Selig and Tovi Wayne, both APA alumni, let us onstage and gave us a once in a lifetime backstage tour. Totally crazy! We also got to experience 6 Broadway workshops with cast members from Hamilton, casting directors, and Hamilton’s music director who complimented me personally on my voice. Overall I couldn’t put into words how amazing the trip was.

MM: What advice would you give a student just starting out in music?

DD: Learn how to read sheet music!!! It’s so important especially if you hope to continue in music, whether it be in singing or instrumentals. I wish I would have learned how to read sheet music when I first started because it honestly is so much easier to learn when you’re younger because it sticks with you for a longer amount of time.

MM: Do you have any performance-based social media sites you want to share, like Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook?

DD: Yes! My Instagram is @drewnicolemusic and my YouTube is reallyitsjustdrew.

MM: Anything else you want to add?

DD: One last bit of advice before I go, if music happens to be your passion, stick with it! There are so many careers that utilize music in some form or another, the possibilities are endless. Life is short so spend it doing something you love.

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