I wouldn’t want to know those things about a stranger who I was inviting into the sacred spaces of my musical life. I’d want to know what makes me and what breaks me. I’d want to know how I developed my skills; how I‘ve come to know what I know about what I know. You too? Great, grab your tea, hot cocoa, coffee, or wine and let me tell you.I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. My parents, knowing I needed exposure to greater cultural diversity, enrolled me in an immersive educational program. From Kindergarten through third grade, our teachers taught purely in Spanish with only about 1-2 hours of English per day. Throughout the remainder of my public education, Spanish was the language I was exposed to for the majority of the day until my Senior year of high school where most of my classes were in English. I learned the alphabet, numbers, Spanish/ Latin American history, music and more. That program opened up a curiosity in me. My father was (and still is) a musician. He played the drums and made sure that my two brothers, my sister, and I developed an appreciation for music. I started piano at a young age (maybe 5 or 6) and picked up the viola shortly after. I wish I could tell you the exact moment that singing became a part of my life, but the honest truth is I don’t know. My favorite piano pieces to practice were the ones with a lyric. In orchestra, if my mouth could sing it my fingers could play it. My first CD was Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You”. I listened to it day and night. In the morning waiting for the school bus and on Sundays while the rest of the family ate and socialized downstairs with church friends. I acted out the music videos (or at least what I understood to be the theme of the songs) in my room belting out “all by myself, don’t wanna be all by myself” as if it were my purpose in life. I don’t know why my family let me do it. They never stopped me. Rarely asked me to be quiet. I participated in my fifth grade choir, my seventh and eighth grade choirs, and the competitive choirs in high school. But I never actually FELT like I could sing. I knew I loved it. But I was not the least bit confident in my talent. My concentration finally shifted to my voice in high school when I decided to attend the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University for Musical Theatre. I applied with one goal in mind; to be good. No not good, great. I chose to go into Musical Theatre because I’d always been a physically active child. I ran track, I was on competitive cheerleading squads, and I learned that I loved to dance. Attending a university that would teach me the skills I needed to sing, act, and dance seemed just right. Then I got my first National Tour. And that lead to my first show on Broadway, Bring It On: the Musical. So, what am I doing here on this path? After Bring It On: the Musical closed something happened to me. My desires shifted from being just a performer – what I had known most of my life – to a creator. Auditions became hard for me because I wasn’t seeing them the same way. I wanted to be behind the table. I wanted people auditioning to songs I had written. One night as I slept my fears and worries about what the future held turned into ambition and drive. I awoke like I was in a coffee commercial stretching my arms after having the best sleep of my life. I opened my eyes, looked out my window and announced to the world “I’m going to write”. That’s it. It was that simple. Call it what you will, but I like to think the man upstairs whispered into my little singing soul and gave me something to say. And now, here I am with a whole lot of somethings to say. I’ve been in the business of people portraying people for a few years, and I’ve seen what “people” are capable of. I’ve seen good, and I’ve seen a lot of bad. I’m hoping to help us all realize that we are what we want to be to each other and to ourselves. Maybe we can change the world together.
- Karla Alvarez
- Courtney Walsh