Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Success Stories From The 10-Week VO Holiday Challenge

Approximately ten weeks ago,  I created a promotion that centered around giving back to the community. The 10-Day VO Holiday Challenge. I challenged voice talents by giving them ten weeks to contact a charity of their choice, donate their service and then write about it on our official facebook page.  The mission was to use our voices to make a difference in our communities.  Here are a few of the success stories;

Lisa Biggs and seven other voice talents are in the process of recording “Patches and Friends”.  This is a video to help children how to understand and express their feelings when they are in need of help.  It’s a 5 month campaign supporting Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention.

Penny Abshire recorded some projects for Shriners Hospital!  This is especially close to Penny’s heart since it's the Shriners who have taken such wonderful care of her granddaughter, Danara. She was born with a birth defect and was in need of a prosthetic leg.  Now, she receives a new leg from Shriners Hospital whenever she needs it - completely free of charge - until she's 18.  It's an amazing organization!

Andrew Coffman recently signed up to volunteer for Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) A great organization doing some very incredible things.

Jennifer Knight contributed her voice (a song) to this awesome project.

Ralph Hass recorded the voice of an angel for Willow Park Church.  This was part of the 20th Annual Living Nativity.

Wendy Edwards, Justin Barrett and Les Sinclair contributed their voices to the Lennon Project. 

Timo DeRumm donated a voiceover- to benefit those suffering from neurological injuries.  The Neurological Foundation of New Zealand.

Derek Chappel provided a voiceover addressing youth and alcohol issues.

Dan Harder recorded five scripts for the American Lung Association. 

EJ Holly is voicing some complimentary spots for Melanie's "Pink" campaign, National Kidney Foundation for Missy, and for Tammy's non profit.  

Dave Courvoisier read a chapter from Reader's Digest for AIRS/LA and raised money for the foster children of Clark County in this season.

Ken Knuckles did a live announcer gig for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.  Over the years, he has lent his voice to other BBBS fund raising efforts.

Karen Commins rewrote two scripts and recorded the narrations for the orientation videos used by the Dive Immersion Program at the Georgia Aquarium.

Nancy Raciti was able to record a holiday greeting for Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) to distribute to its members, volunteers, partners and friends.

Melanie Haynes was honored and happy to volunteer her services by narrating the United Way, Carthage Mo. 2011 campaign.

Stephanie Robinson was able to record 4 PSAs for the National Eating Disorders Association for their upcoming Awareness Week campaign February 26th - March 3rd 2012, "Everybody Knows Somebody." This charity is very close to her heart.

Darren Marlar recorded and sent some "Power Charge Promos" free of charge to a not-for-profit radio station in the Dallas area.

Cat Smith recorded two PSA’s.  One is for the Butterfly Fund, a charity that raises money for families of children with a catastrophic illness or event. The other is for Face to Face, the Sonoma County Aids Network.

As for me?  I am in the process of working with the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation on a couple of different projects.  Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes the muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily.

I can’t thank these voice talents enough for taking time out of their busy holiday schedules to contribute to such a wonderful promotion.  We will do it again next year.  Happy New Year to you and your families.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'Tis The Season To Take Care Of Your Voice

The holidays are a time of celebration and cheer, filled with laughter and joy and goodwill to all.  Of course, no season of celebration is complete without an endless array of parties with tasty delights of food and an ample selection of beverages to toast friends and family.  One cannot help but partake of at least of few of these moments amid the chaotic scramble of balancing workload to meet deadlines and auditioning for future work.

This is also a fantastic time of the year to trash your voice!   I know ... I sound like the Grinch, but unlike the Grinch, I do have heart and I want you to succeed.  As a voiceover talent, teacher, coach or public speaker, you need to be aware of how to care for your voice and still partake in the celebrations of the season and throughout the year.

Here are some tips to help keep your voice in tip top shape:

1. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated and to keep your vocal chords moist as winter weather tends to be very dry.

2. Enjoying sugary sweets, greasy appetizers, dairy and caffeine is fine in moderation, but keep in mind what they do to your voice. Whenever possible, balance your plate with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates.

3. Having a few alcoholic beverages at a party may also be fine; however, resist the urge to overindulge, especially if you will be recording in the morning, as alcohol will dry out your vocal chords and the sugar in it will produce excess mucus.  

4. Carbonated beverages also have a drying effect.  Drinking extra water when consuming alcohol or any carbonated beverages will help keep you hydrated, and adding fresh lemon will help to cut mucus.

5. Cover your neck with a scarf when you go outside and, when it's super cold, try to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.  It may sound crazy but it helps to protect your voice.

6. Remember this is cold and flu season too.  People come from far and near to meet family and friends for the holidays, and each brings a different set of germs, so remember to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

7. Finally, social gatherings tend to be loud making it very easy to strain your voice to be heard in conversations.  The only way to repair excess strain is to get plenty of sleep and rest your voice.

Wishing you all the best this holiday season ... Cheers!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas and Moon Boots

I remember the chill that would go through my bones.  That feeling of anticipation on Christmas Eve, just before my mother had placed all of the presents under the tree.  My brother and I used to make a list of things to do on Christmas Eve so the time would move along a lot faster.  It was the silliest thing ever.  10am: play pong, Noon: play street hockey, 2pm: listen to records.  To this day, I am not really sure if this goofy list made the time move faster but we gave it our best shot!

The tradition in our family was to go and look for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve while my mother got all the presents ready.  We would drive all over Champlin, Minnesota which back in the 70's, took all of ten minutes.  When the outside house lights were on, that was the official signal my mother was ready.  If they were off, she needed more time and we would drive away again.  My Dad would have the Christmas music cranked in the Van and we would all sing along.  It was like a scene out of "Christmas Vacation" with Chevy Chase.  The anticipation was killing us.

Finally, the moment had arrived.  When we drove by our house and the lights were on, my heart started to pound.  Nothing was more important than getting into that house as fast as humanly possible!  During the cold Decembers of the past, we had layers of clothing on.  I remember it taking way too long to get my darn moon boots off!  Yes, moon boots!  I remember kicking them off and watching them sail through the air.  Moon boots could fly at the speed of light if you kicked them off with a purpose.  Gloves, hats and coats everywhere.

We all made a break for the living room as if Santa himself, was still there!  Ah, there it was in all its glory. That giant Tinkertoy set, the Sesame Street set with action figures, the Toss-Across game, Mr. Microphone, the Panasonic Boombox and more!  The beaming smiles on our faces were priceless!  I couldn't get those batteries in that microphone fast enough.  I HAD to hear myself on the radio!

For so many years, my parents gave us such a memorable Christmas.  They were never rich and there was no law stating they had to do this for us.  They loved us and did whatever they had to do to make sure their children had a memorable Christmas.  I will never forget it.  And of course, having my late Grandmother there for all of the madness, made it such a special occasion.

Cheers to our parents for all they have done for us over the years.  It is more than just presents on Christmas Eve.  It's about creating memories of unforgettable joy.  Love you, Mom and Dad!  Miss you Nana!  

Merry Christmas to all of you!   

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald on Grooveshark

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I spent last weekend in NYC.  It was one of the best trips out there yet!  So full of excitement and emotion.  I had the chance to see several voiceover friends that I haven't seen for a long time at the New York Voice Over Mixer.  The party was at the Arena Event Center in Times Square and the accommodations were perfect.  Erik and Lindsay Sheppard did a great job putting this event together!  It was great catching up with Liz De Nesnera, Dave Courvoisier, Trish Basanyi, John Florian, Erik Sheppard and many more!  Tracy accompanied me to the event and not only did she look stunning, she fit in beautifully.  These kinds of gatherings are so unpredictable.  It's like bringing a date to a high school reunion.  You just never know if they are going to fit in or be bored out of their minds.  By the end of the night, Tracy fit in so well, people assumed she was a voice talent!

The rest of the trip was fun, intense and emotional.  We had a chance to visit the new 9/11 Memorial and it was absolutely breathtaking!  I was there only a few months after the tragedy and it was incredible seeing the progress of the new buildings.  The second you step on to the property, you can still feel it.  I got chills immediately.  It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon as we stood there looking at the names of all of the people who lost their lives.  I have a huge lump in my throat as I write this.  It's hard not to imagine them looking down from heaven, seeing their name and smiling.  A truly remarkable day!

I have to admit that when I am in NYC, it always feels like I have been there 200 times.  For as busy as it is, I feel I belong there.  I feel like popcorn popping around in a popcorn maker and then when I get back to Minneapolis, I feel like melted butter.  This isn't as sad as it sounds.  I just feel like I am at my best when I am out there and it takes me a few days to get back into the swing of things when I return.  I think that is the case with most of us after a vacation.  The best part about visiting cities like NYC, is that they really inspire you to do the best you can do.  For me, I always feel closer to the skies when I am there.
Rise by Eddie Vedder on Grooveshark