Wendy Carr is one of the four women behind pop-opera girl group Ida. The group was produced independently by its four members and fully funded by their Kickstarter campaign. Their Christmas album, Believe, has entered the Official Classical Charts just in time for the big day; Ida now in the unique position of being the only unsigned act to feature in this week’s Official Classical Chart. We took 5 minutes with Wendy to talk about their new release …
1. The group funded the new album, Believe, by creating a kick-starter campaign with some pretty exciting and unique rewards for supporters. What have been the pros (and cons) of creating an album this way?
It’s been wonderful to fundraise through a platform that really helps us connect with our audience with the chance for them to pick rewards that we ourselves have created. For example, we had a few pledgers come and be backing vocalists on one of the tracks on the album, and a few pledgers chose to request one of the songs on the album, which was a big risk as obviously not every song can necessarily work in our style, but we thankfully had requests which were perfect for us! The Kickstarter also helped raise awareness that the album was going to happen and therefore the amount of encouragement and support we received was astounding. However, there are some difficulties with doing a Kickstarter fundraiser – we actually reached our minimum target after a few weeks, which in one way was great as we could then promote our stretch goal (which was a more accurate minimum amount that we’d need to raise!). However, it did also mean that we still had over a month before we could actually get to work on the album, as the money is only released once the campaign has completely finished. But it was so worthwhile and, if we hadn’t done it, then the album wouldn’t exist!
2. Ida are working hard to encourage more children to get involved with classical music. What initially inspired you to study classical singing at college and why did it appeal to you more than the contemporary styles?
As a child/teen, I had actually always been more interested in pop and then musical theatre, even though I was always surrounded by classical music growing up. I got lessons in violin and percussion for several years, but although singing was always the main thing for me, I didn’t actually get singing lessons until after leaving school at 18. I got classical lessons and it led to auditioning and getting into conservatoire (Leeds College of Music) and I am so grateful for my training and my professional experience in opera, though I do still enjoy the other genres which is why the classical-crossover style of Ida is perfect for me.
3. Do you do anything to keep your voice ‘in shape’?
Oh yes, absolutely! I drink litres and litres of water every day, especially when we’re travelling, and I’ve got all the girls onto Apple Cider Vinegar, which is honestly the best thing ever! It’s anti-inflammatory and brilliant for your immune system, so it works wonders for a sore throat or if you think you’re starting to get a cold. Also, steaming is great, making sure we don’t strain our voices when talking in noisy environments, etc, and of course, getting enough sleep and eating well is a constant for us. We have to work hard to keep our voices in shape!
4. The group’s members have performed at venues and events all over the world, are there particular cities that you have found provide better opportunities for aspiring opera singers?
I’ve personally found Leeds to be brilliant for young opera singers. I was lucky enough to work with the late great Jane Anthony, who was the head of vocal studies while I was at LCoM. Not only was she a founder of the renowned Leeds Lieder+ festival, which she always made sure that students and graduates were involved in, but she also started a company with musical director and conductor John Longstaff, just as I graduated college, called Young Opera Venture. It was specifically founded to give new graduates their first professional opportunities in the opera world and it gave me experiences that I really appreciated and learned so much from.
5. What can we expect from Ida in 2019?
We’re excited about 2019! We spent a lot of time abroad this year (approximately half the year in total) singing in festivals and cruises, so next year we’re looking forward to having a lot more time in London and working on plans for more UK-based concerts; working on expanding our sound with other writers and producers, and maybe even start planning the next album. We’re looking forward to seeing what doors may open and what path the group are set to take.
And just for fun …
6. What’s your favourite song to belt out in the shower?
It has to be either Life of the Party from Wild Party, or Spargi d’amaro pianto from Lucia di Lammermoor. It depends on if I’m in the mood for a classical or belty sing!
7. Ever sent a text message to the wrong person? If so, what happened?
Oh loads of times, but thankfully nothing so bad that anything really cringe-y came of it.
8. What is the most memorable class you have ever taken?
Wow, I can think of a few, for varying reasons! But I’ll go with one of my classes at drama school (I did a year at Drama Studio London after opera): our teacher Helen got us to do this method of unleashing all these locked up emotions called ‘Starfish’ (anyone who’s done it will definitely remember what I’m talking about!), where it would basically go to an extreme emotion. By the end of it, most of the class were either ecstatically happy or terrifyingly angry, and then there was my friend Mary and me uncontrollably weeping (I mean, proper ugly crying)… It was just the weirdest experience and has stuck with me ever since.
9. What’s been the best concert you’ve ever seen and why?
It’s awful that I can’t tell you who the performers were, but it was a concert at Leeds Town Hall while I was training, and it was a performance of one of my favourite pieces, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto Number 2. I’d never seen it performed live and it was so intricate yet detailed and it just blew me away. I was on the front row and was just beaming from start to finish.
10. Night in or night out?
Night in, without a doubt. I love socialising but I’m not a party animal, so having a nice evening in with a cuppa and some good food is right up my street!
For more information about Ida, head to their website: https://www.idagirls.com
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