The Gift of a Vocal Hero: Audra McDonald's Simplicity and Authenticity

Recently, I had the extraordinary privilege of attending Audra McDonald's concert at the LA Opera, and let me tell you—it was nothing short of fabulous and affirming.

I was at the LA Opera for a wig fitting on the same day as Audra McDonald's dress rehearsal with the orchestra. The timing couldn't have been more perfect! As I was being measured and wrapped in cellophane, I could hear the enchanting voice of Ms. McDonald echoing through the monitors. Her voice sparkled, sending chills down my spine. It was a sneak peek into the magic of the LAO's award-winning hair and makeup department, all while being serenaded by a vocal genius.

What surprised me most was hearing her rendition of "Home" from The Wiz. It was a refreshing departure from the traditional style I associate with musical theater and classical voices, similar to mine. Witnessing her successfully infuse her unique style into such a classic piece was not only a delight but also a liberating moment, a reminder that true artistry defies conformity.

When the time arrived to see Audra in concert, the experience was even more affirming. She delved into the American Song Book of beloved musical theater pieces, taking a few delightful detours like "It's Not Easy Being Green." Each song conveyed a message of upliftment, authenticity, and love—a message Audra shared with the audience. In the current state of our world, she emphasized the importance of spreading these sentiments through music.

Among the highlights, were Audra's rendition of "Summertime." Having studied her version for as long as I can remember, I was struck by her mastery of time. She lingered in the spaces of the song where I had always rushed, prompting me to rethink my approach and consider living in the song a little longer. "I Could Have Danced All Night" was another standout, as Audra breathed new life into this classic, inviting the audience to sing along. Suddenly, a song many sopranos might roll their eyes at became fresh and invigorating.

The most profound lesson from Audra McDonald's performance was the art of simplicity. She remained true to her message and carefully selected songs that aligned with her mission. Her authenticity breathed new life into familiar pieces, making them feel fresh and renewed. Yes, she possesses the ability to belt, but what struck me was her wisdom in staying true to her vocal lane. This authenticity inspired me to dare to sing pieces I've always longed to perform, finding my version just as Audra found hers in “Cabaret.”

Audra McDonald will forever be my vocal hero for her elegance and fearlessness. However, after this experience, she has become my hero for championing simplicity and staying true to herself. She is living proof that by embracing who you are, limitless possibilities unfold.

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