Once you started working on the ships, was the experience what you expected?
A lot of the shows take snippets from Broadway—so there is acting, dancing, and singing involved. Because it was natural for me to sing, I ended up keeping my job. Once we got on the ship, all the people that gave me problems during the rehearsals had to reevaluate, because I was getting all the response. Because once I know what's required, my performance acumen kicks in. I'm not a dancer. If it takes a dancer five minutes to learn something, it takes me five hours. But once I get it, I will look just as good as any dancer, if not better. I can perform it and stylize it.
Which cruise lines have you worked on?
I started with Costa. They mostly did the Caribbean. Then, I went on to Carnival, who gave me a chance at being a headliner on all of their ships after a few years. Then, I went on to Celebrity,
What are some of the things you've learned from your performing experiences on the various cruise lines?
I found that your interpretation of the material is of such creative importance. I would befriend other singers in the cast and realize, if you just hit this note or move this or that to the other, you get so much more of a response. That eventually took me to signing on as a vocal captain. The shows were set with costuming, lighting, and choreography, but I was in charge of what things sounded like vocally. I've seen so many shows where the vocal attack is incorrect for the piece. I've seen some performers do R&B material where clearly, no one ever sat them down to say, "I hear you trying to do an Aretha song, but you should study the actual R&B." It's not just how you start the phrase; it's also how you end it. The timing of it. If you end the phrase wrong, it's not R&B. So many performers would just hold the note too long, because they thought it gave the song a soul element—when really, the best thing is to just nip it in the bud. That makes it more rhythmic.
I also have learned how very fragile the voice is. When I look back at my early years on the ships, I was constantly clearing my throat. I was playing the Phantom. It was a really clear vocal piece. I would struggle through it night after night, and I couldn't understand why. Come to find out years later, I had polyps on both sides of my vocal chords. I had the surgery, and it was like night and day.