Jonathan, it's lovely getting the opportunity to interview you ! To start off this interview I suppose the appropriate question to ask would be, how did your "Musical Journey" begin?
Jonathan: I grew up in Ottawa, Canada to a very musical family. My father often played the guitar and regular 3 part harmony was heard in our basement and in car rides to school (brother, Father and myself). It was always out of fun and a chance for two energetic kids to express themselves. It soon turned into choir practice with the Opera Lyra Boys Choir and musical theatre with a local company. By age 9 it was busy weeks of voice lessons, choir concerts and full productions. I loved the sense of community and the joy of music-making. Sure enough, I was hooked. My inspirations are many. Growing up around both classical and popular music, it led to a very eclectic love of musical story-telling. I can remember the record or tape players in our basement, with everything from Roy Orbison, Billy Joel and Anne Murray to Saturday afternoon at the opera. As a result, we developed a true love of music in all its forms.
How many Vocal Teachers & Coaches have you worked with ? Aside from your own hard work, any credit you'd like to give for those pipes? :)
Jonathan: From the age of 7 I began studying classical voice lessons with Laurence Ewashko. He, along with important mentors like Peter Evans and Dominic D'arcy, encouraged me to explore a wealth of music in a way that was fun and healthy. After high school I went on to The University of Toronto with Darryl Edwards and then The Juilliard School in Manhattan under the guidance of Marlena Malas. As I look back on those formative years, I can't help but appreciate how each of them allowed me to form a well-rounded and unique toolbox of skills to pull from no matter the venue or repertoire.
Jonathan: Over the years I have had the great pleasure of performing and winning awards, but for me, the true reward has always been the way in which I can connect with an audience. It is not everyday, that you are afforded with the chance to connect with people in a very visceral and emotional level. I can truly say that I get more than I give, in terms of positivity and energy. That being said, one of my proudest moments was winning the Oratorio Society of New York award. After 3 years of making the finals and not placing, I was shocked and proud when I won. It led to my debut on the stage of the prestigious Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, with full orchestra and choir, performing a new work by Paul Moravec entitled 'Blizzard Voices'. It is a moment I will not soon forget.
What Subgenre of Classical Crossover do you consider yourself the most prominent in? Most Classical Crossover artists lean one direction or another.
Jonathan: This is a tough question as I find that the genre truly affords a diversity of styles from full on Opera and art song, to pop renditions in the style of Cinematic Pop or Popera. Throughout my career, I have fought to avoid being labeled, in part because my journey in music has been so exploratory. I think having grown up around opera and popular music has made me appreciate the vastness of the musical landscape and ultimately, the freedom that the Classical Crossover genre affords.
Most Proud Accomplishments:
Jonathan: As many artists can attest to, the road to success in the music business is long and challenging. Over the years, I have learned to celebrate each accomplishment as often the road between can be long and tough. I try to balance a healthy dose of the dreamer with practicality. That being said, some of my proudest moments have been on stage. From being accepted to The Juilliard School to my debut at Carnegie Hall and orchestra around the world (Seattle, Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Israel, Sewanee), each opportunity to connect with an audience is a gift.
Jonathan: In 2014, I dove into the gargantuan task of self-funding my debut album. Knowing very little of the work and cost of such an endeavor, I looked to friends and colleagues to make it happen. With a successful Kickstarter campaign under my belt, I reached out to 4 time Grammy-Winning Producer and Mixer Dave Reitzas (Josh Groba, Streisand, Buble) to produce and was soon on my way to LA. It was a surreal experience to work with a true master of his craft and I was so proud when my album 'These Miles' was released. Fusing elements of classical, pop and classic musical theatre, the record was an energetic debut LP, fusing my many musical loves with unforgettable melodies and the lushness of the Macedonia Radio Orchestra. Collaborations included Simon Cowell discovery and tenor Jonathan Antoine and New Age classical pianist and composer Jennifer Thomas.
What are your tricks to keep your voice in shape, do you eat/drink or not eat/drink before you sing, what are your tricks for warming up ?
Jonathan: As a young singer I would often stress about what to eat, what not to and daily activities. As I matured, I realized the importance of enjoying life, food, travel, friends and more. I find a healthy balanced diet, regular workouts both physically and vocal are key to a long and successful career. I obviously will make decisions based on how busy my schedule is vocally, but in general, I think life experience only adds to your ability to communicate and be an intriguing performer. I will say that some of my favorite warm-ups include lip trills and buzzing and gentle arpeggiated scales to gradually stretch my voice and range. Somedays I wake up and a five minute warm-up will suffice, and other days thirty minutes is barely enough. It really depends on the day and the amount of music I will be performing.
One of the greatest skills to have as a crossover performer is the ability to take advantage of amplification. I come from both an acoustic and amplified background, meaning I have learned to work well with both. One of the challenges for a lot of classical performers I think, is understanding that the microphone is your friend not your enemy, and there are ways to take advantage of it, and let it help rather than hinder your performance, particularly if your are singing an "8-show a week broadway schedule" v. a "live un-amplified concert with orchestra". Mic technique is one of the most forgotten and under-appreciated skills I think for crossover singers today.
Jonathan: The music industry is constantly in flux so in many ways I think the tradition full album is dying. With the advent of digital download and now streaming services like Spotify, music lovers are discovering individual songs from many artists rather than appreciating the full album. While I love the idea of an album, artists like the Piano Guys and Peter Hollens are proving that the future of music is in the release of singles with dynamic video throughout a year, with the release of a full album once all have been released. This is a model that I am excited about, and continuing to explore the best way to produce both quantity and quality in the video and audio space. More to come on that as I make plans for music. Those that are interested can visit my YouTube page (http://www.youtube.com/JonathanEstabrooks) for a mini cover song series and subscribe for future releases.
What are your all-time Favorite Theatrical Musicals & why ?
Jonathan: The list is very long but I have been blessed to see some fantastic new musical in New York including Once and The Bridges of Madison County. Both were so unique and well written and not traditional which made them stand out for me.
Now this is a question ALL entertainers think on, if you could sing with any one person or group, who would it be ?! ~ (can be living or deceased)
Jonathan: Another tough one! I think the chance to meet and sing with or for Pavarotti in the mid 90s when he was in his hayday at the Metropolitan Opera would be at the top of my list. Just to watch him sing and hear his wisdom would be invaluable.
Very true, Pavarotti was a genius ! Do you have ~ Any Special Musical Performances planned for 2016 or 2017?
Jonathan: This next year is proving to be a very exciting one. While I cannot yet make an official announcement, I can say that it may take me all over the world in a show I am developing with another female artist. More to come on this and for those that are interested, they can sign up for my mailing list here to be the first to know!: http://eepurl.com/bLBJ0X
You are now running a Classical Crossover radio program ~ Please tell us what inspired you to begin such a task, what it's like getting to talk to so many Classical Crossover artists with so many different backgrounds?
Jonathan: After Becky Kiesel decided to step down after 4 years, I saw an opportunity to carry the torch and continue to give New and established artists the opportunity for exposure and Global Air play. In creating Crossover Radio International, I hope to become a hub for CC news, videos events and more while our weekly show 'Classical Crossover LIVE (Wedesdays 7-9pm EST) is an opportunity for artists and listeners to come together to listen and join in our group chat. It is a great way to spend a evening and I encourage to like us on Facebook and check us out! They can find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/CrossoverRadioInternational/
Dogs by far. Man and woman's best friend right?
B.) Do you have any other hobbies or activities you enjoy outside of singing?
I used to collect coins and money from around the world, though lately my hobbies have included running Crossover Radio International and challenging myself at the gym.
C.) How about favorite board games?
Monopoly 100%. I always hide one of my $500 under the board for a rainy day and it always comes in handy when I think I am almost bankrupt!
D.) You're sneaky ! So, what Country do you live in and what Countries would you like to visit as a performer ?
I live in the United States and before that Canada. I would love to explore South East Asia and Australia/New Zealand.
E.) :) Make sure to try vegemite while you're in Oz ! Not that I've had any yet, but my Aussie friends keep telling me to try it ! What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A good murder mystery, Netflix or having a random night exploring New York.
This Section lets The CC Fans get to know the True Jonathan
Favorite Songs? - Not possible, the list would be a mile long:)
Favorite Television Shows? - I do love anything time travel, sci-fi or intrigue. Netflix and Bing watching is very dangerous.
Favorite Books that you have Read? - A great book about success and building a career called Tribes by Seth Godin.
Favorite Food? - Comfort food, my Mom's Honey/Curry/ Dijon Chicken and rice. It's a secret recipe!
Favorite Color? - Blue or brown, sometimes purple.
Favorite Subject’s in High School & University? - Music
Favorite Singer? Again, the list is too long.
Best Concert you Ever Attended? How can I pick just one! Not fair:)
What are three of your favorite qualities about yourself that you deem special? - Honesty, Communicator, Listener.