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Soprano Nadine Benjamin: ‘There are no shortcuts to being thorough and committed’

Nadine Benjamin. Photo: Sim Canetty-Clark Nadine Benjamin. Photo: Sim Canetty-Clark
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How did you start off in theatre/music?

Initially, I heard and experienced music in church, becoming more active when I started secondary school.

What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?

Be proactive. You have the chance to learn and to be anything you want – the information is at your fingertips. Ask lots of questions. Find a mentor and research your craft.

What would you change about training in the UK?

My own profession, opera, has become more expensive to study. I would find a way to give more people access and to bring music back into schools.

What is the best part of your job?

Sharing my voice and the stories of the characters I play with an audience on the stage or in a recording, and as a mentor, helping students to find and share their voices.

And your least favourite?

The hundreds of hours required to sit, be disciplined and learn every detail of what I am about to perform. I wish I could ‘download it’. There are no shortcuts to being thorough and committed.

Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?

Actors such as Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep. Philanthropists such as Oprah Winfrey. Producers and directors such as Ava DuVernay. Coaches such as Brendon Burchard, Byron Katie and Lisa Nichols. Opera singers such as Joyce Didonato and Martina Arroyo. People whose work is inspiring and who inspire others.

What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?

You need two: common sense and courage.

How do you keep going when you hit a brick wall?

I remind myself this is what I was born to do. I am the only person with the particular message I have and the right combination of gifts to deliver it.

Nadine Benjamin was talking to John Byrne. Her album Love and Prayer is released on August 31

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