On the shuttle bus to the Renaissance Hotel in Orlando – home of this year’s NATS National Conference – we met Wendy, a professor of voice at Stanford University. After the customary chit-chat, we got onto the subject of how difficult it is to be a working singer. Many singers who receive classical training go into a market that is saturated with excellent singers and has a dearth of opportunities. Regional opera companies are drying up. It’s very difficult for young singing professionals to find work, especially in the classical arena. Many are now interested in doing cross-over work. They’re bringing in musical theatre songs to their lessons. This puts the onus on voice teachers to not only learn new material, but help the singer bring their healthy technique to it. It’s a challenge.
Right away, it’s clear we’re in the right place. Not only is this year’s conference dedicated to the issue of musical theatre (with a National Musical Theatre Competition finals concert tomorrow night), our presentation seems to already be attracting a lot of attention. Eyes keep lighting up when we show colleagues our postcard and explain what the directory is: 140 writers, over 300 musical theatre songs that cover the gamut from legit to pop/rock, almost all unpublished. Several people had already heard of our poster paper presentation, and plan to stop by. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that all our hard work is of great interest to people.
The networking opportunities at this conference seem boundless. I spoke to a young, hip publishing company and tossed around the idea of publishing some of the directory’s top songs in an anthology. It was met with a big smile. A long-time NATS member introduced Lorene and I to Irene from the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Brisbane, Australia. Irene told us about their conference in 2013, and encouraged me to submit a presentation based on the directory. Other NATS colleagues asked if we had met so-and-so from this university or organization. All in a matter of two hours.
This much is clear: musical theatre is alive and well in Orlando, in Brisbane and around the world. It is such an honor for us to share over 300 wonderful songs and help get them find their home in all these unexpected places.
Please visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 150 contemporary musical theatre writers and 360+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.