After a brief hiatus (during which the summer flew by far too quickly!) we’re back with our Creative Path series. This time the spotlight falls on singer, Caroline Johnson.
Brought up in Cape Town, South Africa, and with substantial public and private performing experience, including a solo recital broadcast on Fine Music Radio at the age of 18 and solo performances with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra at the City Hall, Caroline moved to London in 2001 to study at the Royal College of Music (RCM). Whilst there, she performed in numerous Chamber concerts and recitals, as well as masterclasses with Roger Vignoles and Graham Johnson. She was privileged to be a member of the RCM Chorus when they performed Mahler’s Second Symphony, under Bernhard Haitink in 2004.
In 2005 Caroline graduated with a BMus degree, with Honours. Since graduating, Caroline has immersed herself in the business sector and is currently working as PA to the Director of Operations for Firmdale Hotels. Her musical performances have included solo singing at weddings and funerals in London, Somerset, West Sussex, Oxford and Cape Town, as well as visiting primary schools to perform and discuss operatic arias with children’s choirs. Caroline has also recently given two recitals at St Paul’s ‘The Actor’s Church’, Covent Garden and will be performing in next year’s Guildford Music Festival.
1. How long have you been singing? How did you get started with it?
I started singing at the age of ten, my father sent me for lessons to help improve my breathing as I’m asthmatic and we found out that I have a voice!
2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?
I really only do it for fun now as I have a full time ‘real’ job, but I love not having the pressure of making a living from my passion, which I can now pursue at my leisure.
3. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?
I work 10/11 hour days, five days a week, so do find it difficult to fit in regular practice, but when I have something to work towards, i.e. a recital or wedding, it all just seems to slot into place and I manage to get in enough preparation.
4. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?
I have had some difficult times with my singing and a couple of comments from people ‘in the know’ have cut me to the quick and partly contributed to me not being a full-time performer. It took me five years to get back on the stage after graduating from the Royal College of Music, but now that I’ve crossed that hurdle, I feel so much more confident in my self and my voice and have had wonderful support from family and friends.
5. What would your dream project be?
I always wanted to perform at La Scala in Milan… but since that’s probably little more than a pipe dream; my ideal project would be collaboration with all my über talented singer friends at a gorgeous country house – an evening of song, wine, dancing and all round fabulousness!
6. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?
A highlight for me has to be returning to my old senior school in Cape Town, Herschel, four years ago and getting up in front of all the girls in their uniforms, sitting in the theatre, looking expectantly, and talking to them about following your dreams and not being disappointed if they don’t necessarily work out the way you had planned. A good education has stood me in such good stead and I am so pleased I was able to give a little bit back, regardless of whether my time there was sometimes less than enjoyable.
7. What does creativity mean to you?
Allowing your natural talents to shine through and giving joy to others through your passion.
8. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?
In the words of a certain sportswear manufacturer: Just do it! Nothing you ever do in life will be in vain, every single experience shapes your character and makes you a more interesting person. Following your dreams and passion may not necessarily lead you down the path you originally set out on, but it sure as hell makes for an interesting ride!
9. Any other comments or thoughts?
Life is short, so live without regrets, grasp every opportunity that comes your way, and no matter what, have fun!