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  • Shannon VanZegeren

Women Who Inspire: Kelli O'Hara


Some may not be as familiar with Kelli O’Hara, but many will certainly recognize the shows in which she has secured starring roles. With a voice that sounds like it came straight out of a classic Hollywood musical, the Tony Award-winner has made a name for herself headlining Broadway revivals such as The King and I, Kiss Me Kate, and South Pacific.


As I’ve learned more about singing, Kelli has most inspired me with her solid technique in supporting her voice. Let me just be blunt in saying that there’s a lot of bad singing out there, even from “really good singers” that “sound good.” What does that mean exactly? Singing that is not supported by the breath and appropriate muscles is detrimental to the vocal chords. In order to maintain vocal health, it’s important to learn how to sing and support your singing in the healthiest way possible. Just like athletes learn to condition their muscles and take care of their bodies, singers must condition their vocal chords and take care of their voices in order to ensure longevity. Kelli has these techniques mastered, and it is evident when you listen to her. She inspires me to pursue vocal health whole-heartedly, and not cut corners when it comes to protecting my vocal chords.


My favorite song to listen to Kelli sing comes from a musical called The Bridges of Madison County. The opening song of the show, To Build a Home, introduces the audience to an immigrant mother who made a new life for herself in America, while saying a bittersweet goodbye to a country she once called home. It’s a beautifully written song I find myself listening to it over and over. I hope it inspires you, too.

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Images by Natalie Burrow Photography