Meet Julia Carson, WPO Holiday Pops Guest Vocalist: “Anything Is Possible!”
At the age of 14, Julia Carson has already established herself as an impressive, talented vocalist. She has won numerous awards, including a Presidential Scholarship and National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competitions. She’s performed in numerous school and community musical productions, as well as a Christmas Revels at Sanders Theater. In addition, she’s sung the National Anthem as soloist for two community ceremonies. Julia also plays flute and other instruments, and in addition to her musical interests, enjoys skiing, gardening, cooking, and baking.
The WPO is very pleased to present Julia as our guest vocal soloist in our November 26th Holiday Pops, “Jazzin’ Up the Pops.” We wanted to know more about this very accomplished young lady, and she agreed to tell us more about herself; her enthusiasm and love of music and performance are very contagious, as you’ll see!
You’ve been in various school and community musicals, such as “Seussical”, “Into the Woods, Jr.”, “Shrek, Jr.”, and “Little Mermaid, Jr.” Of all the shows you’ve performed in, do you have a favorite? Which is it, and why?
I enjoyed every show that I’ve performed in, but my favorite is Suessical. Who wouldn’t have fun speaking in rhyme? The show is colorful and is high energy! It has fun characters, beautiful songs, choreography, and has a great story. When I was little, I read a lot of Dr. Seuss books, so to be in the show was really exciting. I’ve been very lucky to be in the musical production three times in my life. In middle school, I played the sassy Mayzie La Bird. And twice, I got to play the role of Jojo, the Mayor’s kid who has a big imagination, which sometimes got her into big trouble, so it’s such a fun role! The first time I played Jojo was in Seussical, Kids when I was 8, and again when I was 14 in the full production. That was an incredible experience because the cast and faculty at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts Summer Academy were very talented, which brought the show to a higher level! Also, being older, I was able to better understand Dr. Seuss’ great theme of loyalty, belief, and that “Anything is possible!” It’s a positive message! The story is the same, but the 3 shows were different because the director put in his/her perspective. This is what is so amazing about musical theater and why I love it so much! It all starts with words on paper, and with the vision of a director, choreographer, costume and set designers and, of course, a lot of rehearsals, the play comes alive!
You’ve won 1st-place (in your age group) awards from the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) at the Boston Conservatory, which is very impressive. Tell us about how you feel about those awards, and if they played a role in encouraging you to continue your singing.
Yes, the awards have played a big role, because they make me want to keep working harder, and to improve year after year. I was competing in the Musical Theater category, so it’s important to work not only on your voice but also on the character and to perform the song well. At the NATS competition, when you win 1st place in your age group, you have to jump up to the next age group the following year. So after winning the 11-13 year age group for when I was 11, then I had to compete with the 14-15 year olds when I was 12. After placing 1st again, I had to jump up to compete against the 16-19 year old singers. Just like the last two years, I worked hard with my voice teacher. But I went into the competition to just do my best and enjoy the experience, since I thought there’s little chance for me to win the 16-19 year old group because I was only 13 at the time. There were so many talented singers there. When my name was called for 1st place, I was really surprised. I was so happy and felt honored to receive all these awards. And it also confirmed what can happen with hard work and passion. Each of the judges write down their grades and critiques and comments during the auditions, the semi-finals and the finals, so this competition is a great experience, as well as great opportunity to learn from professionals.
You also played the flute for four years. Do you still play, and do you have any favorite pieces in which you’ve performed?
I played the flute in the middle school band and jazz band. We played some great classical and jazz pieces, but I no longer play in the band. I still have my flute at home, but I mostly concentrate on playing the piano. I’m also teaching myself the guitar. With these instruments, I can sing along or write songs. With YouTube, it makes it easy to sing just about any song after I learn the basic chords on the piano. My older brother Ben plays the piano, guitar, bass and drums and sings also, so we have a lot of fun with music and we sing together all the time.
We’re pleased to have you as a featured soloist at the WPO Holiday Pops on November 26th. How do you feel about singing with our orchestra on this occasion?
Thank you! I am so grateful to be given this opportunity to sing with the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra and to work with Music Director Michael Korn. It’s very exciting! I know that my voice is a gift from God and I love sharing this gift with others, especially if it makes them happy. Christmas is a favorite holiday! When I was little, my Mom played Christmas music all year long. The songs are joyful and happy. They bring warm memories of being together with my family and friends and celebrating the holidays and the true meaning of Christmas. The WPO Holiday Pops is going to be so much fun! It is a great way to start off the season. I am very honored and excited to sing with the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra and to be a part of this great event!
Do you have plans for a singing career as an adult?
I have family who live in NYC so my Aunt and my Uncles treat me and my brother, Ben, to two or three Broadway shows a year, so it would be a dream come true to be on stage there. But being a freshman at Bishop Feehan High School, right now I am focused on academics and preparing for college because having a good education is important to me. I really like all my subjects at school from Science to Math to French to Music to English to History (this isn’t in any order). I also love that I can be involved in singing and theater at school and in the community. And I will keep auditioning for competitions. Music will always be a big part of my life! As for a career? “Anything is possible!”
Thank you, Julia! We very much look forward to your Pops performance; your enthusiasm and talent will undoubtedly add sparkle and fun to this popular annual event!