July 19, 2021
The Bass Gang is a group of four bass singers, thriving in virtual collaboration from all corners of the planet — Bobby Bass from Connecticut, Tomi P from the Czech Republic, Marwan Ayman from Egypt, and Peter Barber from Virginia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Bass Gang assembled for their premiere project, entitled, “May the Bass Be With You,” covering four songs by the worldwide sensation, Billie Eilish. So far, May the Bass Be With You has yielded nearly 100,000 views on YouTube, tens of thousands of plays on streaming services, and tens of thousands more on Instagram and TikTok. Needless the say, The Bass Gang’s reputation has quickly permeated throughout the online bass and a cappella communities. With merchandise on the way, as well as plans for future collaborations, The Bass Gang is here to stay, and the buzz around them has only continued to snowball since the their first project came to completion.
In this podcast, we talk about how The Bass Gang started, how we pulled off enormous virtual collaborations from around the world, why we chose Billie Eilish, our whirlwind experience from the onset of the group in January through the culmination of our first project on May 31st, as well as a host of questions provided by BSN, the Bass Singing Nation discord server, without which, The Bass Gang would’ve never been founded, Please welcome The Bass Gang.
My Merchandise Store on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PeterBarberMerch
July 5, 2021
At age 26, Veronica Swift has become one of the world’s most sought-after jazz talents. At age nine, she recorded her first album, and began professionally touring with her parents, as well as The Young Razzcals Jazz Project. At age 11, after recording her second album, she headlined her first show at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Just before graduating from the University of Miami, Veronica was awarded second place at the Thelonious Monk 2015 Jazz Vocal Competition, landing her a showcase at the esteemed Birdland Jazz Club in New York City, where she maintained a weekly residency while touring internationally with famous trumpeter, Chris Botti. Over the past few years, Veronica signed a record deal with Mack Avenue Recordings, and released her 2019 album entitled, “Confessions” with them. She has also toured and performed on numerous occasions with Michael Feinstein, Benny Green, Wynton Marsalis, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, appearing at many of the world’s legendary jazz festivals and clubs.
Veronica and I go way back, all the way back to 6th grade at Henley Middle School. A simpler time, and a more awkward time to be sure, but it looks like we’ve both turned out okay. We cover a lot of ground in this conversation, discussing what it means to be a storyteller, to be an artist, the comparisons between jazz and operatic lifestyles, international tours, going to school in Miami, and much more. We went out to dinner the day after this interview, and she casually clued me in that the week prior, she went out to dinner with Sting while she was in New York. I’m obviously a much more exciting dinner date than Sting, but save some fame for the rest of us, would ya? Please welcome Veronica Swift.
June 21, 2021
Bryan Hymel is a professional opera singer, father, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. Praised by The New York Times for his “unflagging stamina and impetuous abandon” during his 2012 Metropolitan Opera debut as Énée in Les Troyens, Bryan Hymel went on to be awarded the Metropolitan Opera’s Beverly Sills Artist Award for his achievements in the production. He is also the winner of the 2013 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera for his trio of performances in Les Troyens, Robert le diable, and Rusalka at London’s Royal Opera House. An exclusive recording artist for Warner Classics, his first solo album Héroïque earned Hymel the coveted Georges Thill Prize by the Académie Nationale du Disque Lyrique and the Newcomer of the Year Award from ECHO Klassik. Additional recordings include La Damnation de Faust with Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, Robert le Diable with Daniel Oren and the Opera di Salerno, as well as DVD recordings of Carmen, Les Troyens, Robert le Diable and Les Vepres Sicillienes all from the Royal Opera House in London.
Bryan and I talked about the realities of a career as an opera singer, starting a family as an opera singer, the psychological challenges of the business, vocal technique, and much more. Please welcome Bryan Hymel.
May 31, 2021
Rod Gilfry is a professional opera singer, two-time Grammy nominee, actor, and voice teacher, and is acclaimed world-wide in opera, musicals, recitals and cabaret. He has performed in all the world's music capitals, and appears on over 30 recordings. An important part of his 75-role repertoire are the 12 leading roles he has created in new operas. These include David Lang's solo opera the loser with The Los Angeles Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Thomas Adés’s The Exterminating Angel. Despite cancellations due to COVID, Rod has upcoming performances with Renee Fleming, the Metropolitan Opera, and more. Rod is in his 12th* year as a Professor of Vocal Arts at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles.
Outside of the musical world, Rod has become a true renaissance man, cultivating the skills of mixology with his full-scale home-bar, and he has even learned how to weld and shape metal.
Rod was my voice teacher at USC for two years, and it was both a joy and an honor to work with him. Despite being an absolute master of his craft, he wouldn’t hesitate to strike up a conversation about a NASA space-launch, and all the sophisticated science that goes into it. He is truly one-of-a-kind. Please welcome Rod Gilfry.
May 17, 2021
Named as one of Musical America’s Top 30 Innovators in Classical Music, Josh Shaw is the Artistic Director and CEO of Pacific Opera Project (POP), which has been described as "L.A.'s most exciting new opera company." Over the past nine seasons, Mr. Shaw has directed over 35 productions at POP, including The Rake’s Progress, Ariadne auf Naxos, La Calisto, Tosca: A Moving Production; and La Boheme: AKA “The Hipsters”. Mr. Shaw’s reimagining of Die Entführung aus dem Serail as an episode of Star Trek has gained national attention and has been produced by eight companies selling out houses with record-breaking numbers.
Josh and I talk about innovation in opera, running an opera company during a pandemic, what he looks for in singers during auditions, and much more. Please welcome Josh Shaw.
May 3, 2021
Michaela Jill Murphy (aka Jessie Flower) is an American actress, singer, and writer often known for her voice work as Toph Beifong in Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, Chaca in Disney’s The Emperor’s New School, and many more. She grew up acting in Los Angeles, then went on to graduate with a Theater and Film double major from Yale University. She recently started releasing ATLA inspired apparel and merchandise on her new site titled Bandit Basics, and premiered her first short film as writer/producer! Follow her on Instagram @michaelamostly to stay up to date daily and check out her website www.michaelajillmurphy.com!
Michaela and I had a great conversation about her experience as a voice actress, growing up as a child actor in the limelight, her foray into pre-med at Yale University, her journey back into the world of film and theater, her experience in a cappella, the psychological implications of quarantine for performing artists, and much more. This was a true joy for me, and I’m thrilled to share this conversation with all of you. Please welcome Michaela Jill Murphy.
April 19, 2021
Bobby Waters is a 22-year old bass singer, currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Sound Recording Technology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In recent months, Bobby has experienced what it’s like to “go viral,” garnering hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of likes. Through TikTok, Bobby and several others formed a vocal group at the beginning of 2021 named The Wellermen, referenced after their sea chanty studio single, “Wellerman.” After releasing this track just weeks ago, it already has millions of streams throughout all streaming services, and over one million views on the corresponding YouTube video.
Bobby and I talked about what it’s like to go viral, the differences between the college and professional a cappella worlds, TikTok, growing a following, sea chanties, Game of Thrones, and much more. Bobby and I recently collaborated on a cover of “The Summit” by Avi Kaplan, which Avi actually ended up seeing, AND giving us a full stamp of approval — we talk about this briefly in the interview, and what it’s like to interact with your biggest musical heroes. Please welcome Bobby Waters.
April 18, 2021
Hi everyone, and welcome to Vocal Arts, the podcast that explores the world of professional voice artists. My name is Peter Barber, and I'll be your guide along this path of vocal performance. What's that? Oh, why am I qualified to host this show? Well, for starters, I got my master's degree in, you guessed it, "Vocal Arts and Performance" from the University of Southern California. I trained one-on-one with world-class singers, and learned all about the physiology and function of the human voice from leading voice scientists. Beyond that, I currently sing opera professionally as a Resident Artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts. Since quarantine started, I began producing my own a cappella music, from arranging and recording to mixing and mastering. I've performed in basically every genre from EDM to chamber choir, and with an undergrad major in audio engineering, I can comfortably bridge the gap between live performance and studio recordings, from the grandiose space of a 3000-seat opera house to the intimate, sound-proof booths used in voiceover. But perhaps most importantly, I'm just a young artist, fascinated by the various careers in vocal performance, and inspired to learn more about them from the best and brightest vocal talent the world has to offer. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey, and no matter what your involvement is within the world of vocal arts, I hope that here, on this podcast, you can both learn something and enjoy. This is Peter Barber, and I'll see you next time on Vocal Arts.