Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Video spotlight: She Used to Be Mine by Evynne Hollens

Evynne Hollens has become one of my favorite singers lately. She has such a Broadway voice, one that's a pretty perfect blend of technique and emotion. Watching this woman sing feels kind of like watching a vocal master class. In fact, Evynne has a voice lessons series on her YouTube channel that I really like. She explains things very well and is always so much fun to watch. Plus she's so encouraging that in a way it's like getting lessons from a friend. Aside from that, I believe everything she sings, which is wonderful.

If I have any problem with Evynne, it's that she puts out so many great videos so consistently that it's nearly impossible to pick which one to write about. I want to write about them all, especially the ones she's been doing lately. She's actually got me thinking that I might do a couple of weeks devoted strictly to Disney related videos. It'd have to be a couple because between her and her husband, Peter, there's so many great ones to choose from. And they're just two of the people making great Disney videos. It's not so much a question of if this'll happen, it's a question of when. I know exactly which video will start it off, though. It's an Evynne video and one that features a Disney princess or fourteen. It's pretty impressive. 

Today's video, however, is not a Disney video. "She Used to Be Mine" is from the brand new musical Waitress, music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles.  Waitress is based on the 2007 film of the same name and made its Broadway debut on April 24th to rave reviews. It's been nominated for several awards and is up for four Tony's. Two of the nominations being for Best Musical and Best Original Score. Not too shabby. The soundtrack to the musical will be available digitally on June 10th while physical CDs will come out on July 1st. Evynne uploaded this video this past November after Sara released an album of her singing songs from the show earlier in the month. Evynne has talked a lot about how Sara is one of her favorite artists. That, paired with Evynne's love of musical theater, meant that it would only be a matter of time before Evynne covered one of the songs from the show. What a song this is, too. I've been listening to Evynne's beautiful cover of "She Used to Be Mine" a bunch lately. 

Take a look.



As I said, I believe every word Evynne sings and that is especially true for "She Used to Be Mine". You don't just listen to or watch her sing this; you feel it. It makes me wish I could see her perform live because I can only imagine that it's that much more powerful. She has such a talent for locking into the heart of a song and making it her own. You never see her break character while she's singing, which I love. This actually made me think of the vocal coach I had in college, Ms. Anderson, who would constantly remind me that your performance isn't just made up of when you're singing. It's also when you aren't; it's during the instrumental only parts as well. A lot of people seem to forget that. They'll be feeling the song while they're singing, but it's like they snap out of it during any instrumental breaks. This is the kind of thing I hate noticing because it makes a performance seem less authentic and more manufactured. Like they were only pretending to feel it, which they probably were.

Take a lesson, performers, the audience is (hopefully) always watching. I don't care what you're singing; commit to it. Find the emotion and then let yourself actually feel it. From the first note played to the last. This is one of the things that separate the good performers from the great ones. Because if you're genuinely feeling something than the audience will too. That's what makes a performance captivating. That's exactly what this cover is: captivating. Both while watching this video and while just listening to the song. The emotion comes through in both cases - because she's really feeling something. Combine that with her technique and you're left with something very powerful. I love how the song builds, vocally and musically. Dynamics at work, people. How I adore when people know how to use them. The part near the end "To bring back the fire in her eyes / That's been gone, but it used to be mine / used to be mine" is my favorite part. Especially the second mine. The way she transitions back down from that strong belt is just wonderful. 

What I like about "She Used to Be Mine", the song itself, is that it's one of those songs that would sound just as good on the radio as it no doubt does on the stage. No doubt why they wanted Sara Bareilles to do the music. I'm not sure that they could have found anyone better. And for Evynne, with Sara being her favorite artist, it only makes sense that she'd connect with it so deeply. It's always interesting to watch people pay tribute to those who have inspired them. That said, it also doesn't hurt that "She Used to Be Mine" is a song that many people will find easy to relate to. 

That's Nathan Alef playing the piano and apparently he did the arrangement as well. Reminds me that I need to feature some of his own videos at some point. I always enjoy listening to him play and he complements Evynne perfectly. I may have said it before, but it's pretty hard to go wrong with just a piano and a voice. Especially when both performers are this talented. A beautiful job done by them both.

If you want to stay up to date with what Evynne is doing (and you do), you can do so here:
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