Tara Tanner

Operation Smile

Tara TannerBefore Tara could speak, she could sing! Tara began singing in front of people at her church at age three. She grew up in a very close, musical family where her mom and dad encouraged her and provided her opportunities to use her gift. The Ritchie family traveled together and sang gospel music since she was very young. “Tara and Charlotte were singing three-part harmony at five years old; they could just hear it,” says Dad. “Believe it or not, Tara even played the harmonica!” As a young teen, Tara got her first experience in a Nashville recording studio. Her father, no stranger to the recording studio, went to record his third original album. Tara and her sister, Charlotte, sang background vocals as well as a couple of solos.
Tara continued singing, using her then strong and belty alto voice. Tara had no formal vocal training until high school. During her junior year, Tara joined the chorus at Bartlett High School under the direction of Ed Riddick as an Alto II. She performed in the chorus in addition to playing the piano at chorus concerts, and continued to sing frequently at her home church. She participated in the Tennessee All-West and All-State Honor Choirs, and also joined a local gospel quartet, the Inmans. During Tara’s senior year of high school, Dr. Jerry Jordan visited the Bartlett High choir and spoke with Tara. She was persuaded to audition for a scholarship at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Jerry Jordan and the world renowned Concert Singers, in addition to scholarship, persuaded Tara that God was calling her to Ole Miss! Unfortunately, Tara returned home from college in fall 1996. Tara can remember thinking that all that classical singing was going to change her belty alto voice. She is overwhelmed when she thinks of how different her life and voice would have been had she not returned! Doc and Mrs. J (Jerry and Jean Jordan) will never know just how much of an impact they made! After much thought and prayer, Tara decided to return to Ole Miss for the 1997 fall semester. She studied briefly with Ole Miss graduate, Christy Young, in order to prepare better this time. She was accepted into the university’s elite group that year, the Concert Singers, as a Soprano I. In the summer of 1998, Tara’s choir won the Gran Premio de Europeo in Gorizia, Italy, Europe’s most prestigious choral competition. While at Ole Miss, travels allowed Tara to perform in Russia, Finland, the Netherlands, England, France, Germany, and Italy. Tara’s Ole Miss choirs performed at National and Regional ACDA conventions during her years there. Tara was a finalist in NATS auditions and performed solos. In December 2001, Tara graduated with Bachelor of Music Education with vocal emphasis.
Fresh out of college in December 2001, Tara began directing the Olive Branch High School chorus program. She still gets sentimental when she remembers all the precious people she got a chance to work with there. What an incredible first teaching job! However, Tara decided to teach private voice exclusively in spring 2005, and resigned her position at OBHS. It was one of the most difficult things she’s done. Tara was blessed with a great administration, wonderful fellow teachers, and incredibly talented students. At the time, she felt however that this new path was the one to take. Tara continued singing at her church and at other local events. Tara founded Bel Canto of Memphis in 2005 to be a coalition of quality, trained voice teachers where students would receive exceptional individual instruction. From 2005 to 2008, she also led a choral group of home-schooled students, giving them the same opportunity to receive college-prep choral instruction and to participate in Tennessee All-West and All-State Honor Choruses that public and private school students. In October of 2008, her husband’s dear friend, Neal E. Boyd, won NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Through the process of the show and getting to know Neal, Tara began to want more for her own singing, and she began writing more songs.
Her husband, Justin, who has a music degree in vocal performance, encouraged her constantly and began producing the tracks for her new songs. Tara remembers a moment with Neal that has stuck in her mind.
She was sharing with Neal and her husband some goals she had, making sure they knew that she was fully aware of the odds. Neal said to Tara, ‘I never have been someone to care much about the odds!’ It really hit her. Those are the kind of people who go on to do great and memorable things, not the ones who are afraid to diligently try!”
Tara currently teaches private voice in Desoto County, Mississippi, teaching out of her home and several local high schools.
She is actively involved in the worship team at Life Fellowship Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Tara also leads worship at women’s conferences, and performs at area churches, local nursing and rehabilitation centers and at community events.
Tara wants to use the gifts she’s been given and takes it to the next level. She just loves to sing for people and wants to give back to others because she has been so richly blessed.

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