Here at b**p, we managed to interview 15-year-old Charlotte Potter, a hopeful classical singer. She gave us some insight into classical singing, where her love for the stage came from and how she’s developed her vocal talent, all while staying on top of her GCSEs.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Charlotte, I’m 15 years old, attend Laurence Jackson School in Guisborough and I love singing all genres, but in particular, classical. I am a member of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain Training Choir, The Tees Valley Youth Choir, Tees Valley Chamber Choir, Silverwood Band and Middlesbrough Youth Theatre (MYT).
How did you get into singing?
My mum is a classically trained musician (she plays French horn and sings), so growing up I was surrounded by classical music. When I was four years old, she was singing at a wedding in York, so was practising ‘Panis Angelicus’ at home. Apparently I started singing it in perfect tune, and in my version of Latin, after only hearing it a couple of times! From then on, my mum encouraged me to sing, but I was really shy in public. When I was seven, the local cheerleading coach started a musical theatre class, so mum took me along – I was a nervous wreck. Eight weeks later, I sang ‘Castle on a Cloud’ from Les Miserables in front of an audience of 250 people and I realised that this was something I wanted to do.
Opera is not something you would associate with young people; how did you get into that style of singing?
I initially thought I’d be involved in musical theatre, but as I’ve got older my voice has changed. My singing teacher has selected a repertoire that suits my voice and range, but most importantly, my current age. You have to be so careful not to damage your voice – it’s not like a violin or trumpet, where if it gets damaged you can get a new one. When I’m singing arias from oratorios and operas I feel so happy, as if these are what I’m meant to do! I really enjoy singing other stuff too, and love belting out Whitney Houston in the car on the way to rehearsals!
Have you had any professional training?
I started singing lessons at the age of 11 and swapped to my current teacher, Miranda Francis, in 2014. I got distinction in my Grade 7 exam at the beginning of the year and will be doing my Grade 8 this autumn. Following a 1:1 consultation with a principle at English National Opera, I am having monthly sessions with a professional soprano/vocal coach from ENO, which are fantastic. Her sessions compliment the work I am doing with Miranda, further developing my technique. I am currently being mentored by the Head of Music Staff in the School of Vocal Studies and Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), being supported with musical interpretation and language.
How do you balance the singing with schoolwork?
It’s not easy – sometimes I just want to have some time for me to chill! I am lucky in that my school are incredibly supportive of my singing. I have always managed to complete homework on time, but it’s not always to the best of my ability. Obviously, my education is really important, and moving into Y11 is going to mean I’ve got to manage my time really well. If I want to pursue my music education then I need to get the necessary GCSEs and A levels in addition to working hard with my singing.
What is your greatest achievement so far?
It’s hard to select just one! Getting into the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain in 2013 was amazing as I have been able to sing at some fantastic venues around the UK, including the Royal Albert Hall in April.
In September I was awarded an Individual Performance NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) Award for my role as Older Cosette in MYT’s Youth production of Les Miserables. The following week I got to sing for the Japanese Consular General at Wynyard Hall, and when I was introduced to him he said he’d loved my Puccini!
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I would like to think that I would have graduated from music college, and be performing recitals and oratorios! The female voice doesn’t usually reach maturity until around 30 years of age. That’s why my teachers are taking care with it now, protecting it for the future.
What advice would you give to someone else who may like to be involved in opera?
Don’t let the opinion of your peers put you off! If it’s what you want to do, follow your dreams. See if there are any local choirs that sing a more classical repertoire, rather than just pop music. Seeing an opera live is amazing too – I saw Cosi fan tutte performed by students at the RNCM in the spring and I just wanted to be on the stage with them!
What do you enjoy doing besides singing?
I also enjoy ballet, and have had lessons since the age of three. I love playing trumpet and I enjoy photography, rock climbing and going for walks on the North York Moors, taking photographs for my GCSE art portfolio.
Our hopes are with Charlotte as she pursues what she loves!
You can view her YouTube channel right here.