The World is going Online,
and so are Voice-Overs!

By Bridget Brady



Have you ever wished you could hire voice-over talent online? Are you a voice-over actor looking for more jobs? Via web or mobile app, Voices.com has you covered! Right in-line with how the world is continuing to go online, David and Stephanie Ciccarelli founded Voices.com in 2004. This voice-over matchmaking service has voice-over jobs and clients all over the world. I sit down with their talent services manager, Jennifer Smith to learn more!

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Voices.com...Super Interesting!! What an incredible concept!

David [Co-Founder of Voices.com] was in school, and graduated as a sound engineer. He started his own recording studio and was recording music and voice-overs. Stephanie [Co-Founder with David] went to school for music, as a classically trained singer. Her mom saw an article about David in the paper, and put it out on her bed for her. Stephanie saw it, and went into his studio to get a demo recorded. David was getting more and more requests for voice-over projects, thought Stephanie would be good for them, started asking her to come into the studio...and as they like to say, "It got romantic from there." Now they are married with four kids!

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I LOVE that story!!

With so many requests for voice-over projects, they started having other voice-over talent chime in. They realized there was a need for somebody to connect the talent with the businesses. They designed the website on the back of a napkin, as cliché as that sounds. They first started working from home, and then moved into a University research park in London, Ontario [Canada]. We just passed the three year anniversary of moving to our new office in downtown London, Ontario. We've been expanding, renovating, and growing quite a bit. We're up to 52 employees! We have a lot of clients in the US, but also have an International client base.

So you provide services to both clients who are looking for voice talent, as well as the voice-over actors themselves.

We're the online marketplace that connects businesses with professional voice actors. A client can come to our website, do a search through our VO demo database, or post a job publicly, with the stats they're looking for. The job posting invites people to audition. The talent reads 20 - 30 seconds of a script from their home studio, and replies back to the client with the recording, a proposal, and quote for how much they'd like to charge. The client is given a list of all the auditions and talent they can choose from; they can hire and pay the talent directly through our site.

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This is awesome! Is there a cost for either the client or the talent to join your service?

The voice talent pays a membership fee. They can get started with a free membership, and once they're ready to start auditioning, they get one of our paid membership options. [Starting at $40 per month, or $349 for the year]

When an artist books a job, are they recording from their home studio for the actual voice-over job?

Almost all of the time, they're recording from their home studio. We usually have 100 - 150 jobs posted to our site every day. The talent has a lot of audition opportunities. You're not going to want [to] have to pay for studio time. It's the main reason the talent wants to work from a home studio.

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So, it wouldn't make sense for an artist who doesn't have a home studio to register with you.

Not really, unless they have easy access to a free studio.

Are these primarily AFTRA and/or Union jobs?

Most of the time it's non-union work, but there's a variety: cartoons, television commercials, movie trailers, how-to videos for a new product, corporate trainings, YouTube video narration, etc.

Who's your ideal client?

People who are looking for an easy way to get in touch with talent. We have a lot of Fortune 500 companies like AT&T, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Kaiser Permanente, ABC, ESPN, the list goes on. However, the bulk of companies that work with us are small businesses, and ad agencies; people who don't want to go through the traditional methods of going through a voice-over agent.

Do you work with voice-over agents? If someone has a VO agent, how does that relationship work with you?

Every agent is a little different. Some restrict their talent to work within a certain geographical area. Some will let their talent do online jobs. They all have their own individual rules in place. Our talent often has several agents, and will work with a company like us as well. With our service, they have a lot more control and choice.

Do the clients pay to post jobs?

They pay a 10% escrow fee to us. [Based on how much they are paying for the job.]

Does the talent get to see the client’s budget?

Yes. The talent sees the budget amount, or range. Then the client only pays the escrow fee if they actually hire the voice talent.

Do you work with any famous voice-over talent?

We recently had people do the voices for the Transformers app and My Little Pony. [Brittany Lauda, Kira Buckland, Amber Lee Connors, and Sunni Westbrook]

This is an exciting service, right in-line with how the world continues to go online. I would imagine it’s really useful to both clients and talent alike.

We are constantly growing. We recently translated our site into Spanish [Mx.Voices.com]. This year was our 10th year in business and we posted our 100-thousandth job this year! Right now we're putting an aggressive expansion plan into action and have been hiring five people a month for the last six months. We have referral programs, and love to help clients and talent find each other and work together!

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Learn more here! http://Voices.com, http://Twitter.com/VoicesDotCom, https://www.facebook.com/voicesdotcom

To download the free Voices.com App

To learn more about the author, go to: http://BridgetBrady.com, http://TheVoiceGenius.com, http://MoreOnlineIncome.com

 

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Robin Williams - RIP

By Dale Angel



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Way back in the 70’s a “full goose bozo” appeared in the clubs in Hollywood. Robin Williams sort of exploded onto the scene, soon landing a part on Happy Days as Mork, an alien from outer space. As Williams seemed to be out of place on this planet, it just worked. So much so that Mork spun off as a hit show, and Williams became a star. Those who knew him said he was so crazy in part because he was so coked. He was rewriting the rules of improv, or burning the book of rules. He could improv circles around the best comics in LA with a wit and a mind that worked at light speed. But his friends say he seemed unaware of his success. Crazy was no act, the racing mind of a wild man was the real deal. But even early on there was a dark undertone. While Williams was cracking us up, there was a sense that he was too far over the top, a bit too outrageous, a bit too “full goose bozo”.

But then he was making films. Some of the funniest films ever. The Word According to Garp was perfect for Williams. Strange, and seemingly based on Williams’ stand up characters. He proved he could hold his own in dramatic acting with Good Will Hunting, a film that earned him a best supporting actor Oscar.

His memorable movies include Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and The Birdcage. In 2002 Williams stunned his fans with his dark roll in One Hour Photo. Williams wanted to play these dark rolls, it seemed he needed to work something out with some demons. The dark side came out brilliantly in The Fisher King, and Good Will Hunting and even a disturbing role on Law and Order SVU.

Williams was in his element when improving. He’s mentor friend and only improv equal was Jonathan Winters. Williams credited Winters' improv style and quirky characters as the inspiration for his comedy. In a great comedic twist Winters was cast as Williams' son on Mork & Mindy. When Winters died last year Williams tweeted that Winters was his "Comedy Buddha." No doubt the loss of Winters empowered some of the darker demons.

Williams had problems with drugs and depression. He had gone to rehab twice. And it seemed rehab brought out the demons. And now it seems the demons won, and we have all lost. It’s so hard to understand how comedy can have a dark side, a very dark side. But for those who really know funny, they understand that often funny is a defense, a way to keep the demons at bay. So it seems that the dark currents run very deep in some of the people we would least expect to not be the happiest people on earth, even if they seem to not be from earth at all.

Miss you already Robin.

Read about director and writer, Stanley Dyrector's, chance meeting with a much younger, Robin Williams here.

 

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Tara Ellison Talks Her Debut Novel
Synchronized Breathing

By Autumn Topping



Synchronized Breathing, the debut novel of former actress and Huffington Post columnist Tara Eliison, tells a story about a woman named Scarlett who gets the chance to start over and really re-discover her path in life, all in the midst of a messy divorce and a few more chaotic relationships along the way. With a toddler, no real job, and perhaps a little bit of a prayer, Scarlett moves back in with her mother (the scandalously funny CeCe), as she attempts to find out what she wants from life, and if maybe, just maybe, there is more to it than just men. Funny and sweet, Synchronized Breathing is a novel for women needing a good laugh, and for women who can relate to a character that has made some wrong choices in life. Tara, warm and open, took the time to talk to REAP about what inspired her to write Synchronized Breathing (including the inspiration behind the wildly crazy CeCe, and of course her own divorce), her love for Los Angeles, and what she has planned next.
 
Let's just start with the basics. Tell me about yourself, your background, your passion for writing. 
 
TaraPhotoCU.jpgWell, I have a bit of a nomadic upbringing. I was born in London, and then moved to our native Australia with my Mom, and then I moved for a while in Hong Kong, and then we moved to the states. So, I've lived… I'm really fortunate to have lived in a lot of really great places. I didn't think of it that way at the time. When I was a kid, I just felt we moved around a lot, but in retrospect, it was really a very unique education. 
 
Yeah, it sounds like it!
 
[Laugh] I got to see a lot of different lifestyles and a lot of different cultures, and that really I think was a great feeder for my writing, using it as a little sponge… and a lot of info that you don't really realize you're sort of cataloging...to be used later in some writing. But then, I always loved writing and I was always drawn to it and found that it was a really good school for processing things. So, if I had a bad break up, I would just write in my journal…. I didn't keep a diary per se, but I definitely relied on writing to help me figure out how I felt. And, I didn't ever think of it as a career possibility; it was just something that I really enjoyed. Then, I started taking some writing classes years ago, and shared some of my writing with the women in the course, and I got a lot of positive feedback. That was really exciting. So I said, "Okay, well if I can make some of these ladies laugh at these little stories…" And then I ended up going through a miserable divorce as they mostly are.
 
I found myself with a lot of free time, and I felt at a bit of a loose end. I didn't know really what to do with myself until I started creating these little stories, and it sort of really grew from there. And, I started talking to other women and hearing their stories and it became something where I couldn't wait to get home and get back into this little world of these characters. I'd get up early, or I'd stay up late because sometimes when I couldn't sleep I'd get up and start writing. [Laugh] It just sort of began to consume me, and it was an 8 year journey to get this book done from the beginning. 
 
Wow.
 
When I first started… to finding a publisher…so many times I tried to put it away and forget about it because you know, it's a lot of work and I never thought I had the discipline and I'd be like, "Whom I kidding that I could write a book, like what makes me think that I have anything to say or that anyone will be interested in any of this?" But it was, it never let up, like this book needed an outlet; it needed to be born because I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. And that voice would be going, "Get up. Start writing. What are you doing?" I was never able to totally tune it out, so you have 8 years of a testament to my procrastination. [Laugh]
 
But finally, it's out there now for other ladies to read and hopefully, have a few laughs along the way. And well, I've had other women tell me that...although they haven't had a divorce, or they haven't had similar circumstances, that they could relate to the story, which made me feel happy because it isn't just a story for women going through a divorce. It's really a story for women and anybody starting over, or feeling like they want a chance to create something different, or make different choices. I think we can all sort of relate to that.
 
Of course.
 
So, that makes me very happy when people take something positive away from the book.
 
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For those who have not read your book, can you briefly tell them what Synchronized Breathing is about?
 
Synchronized Breathing is a story about a woman learning to make better choices. [Laugh] And learning to start over....It's sort of a delayed coming of age in a way....It's a journey for a woman that is not happy with the choices that she's made, and she really can't blame anybody but herself, and then she has to start to relearn she may not have the best role model to go on with her own mother -or she might be a really good role model depending on where you stand - but she has to learn. The Synchronized Breathing part is about...initially, she's looking for that connection for a lover, but at the end she realizes that she really needs to be able to breathe on her own and not have that emotional dependence on men. 
 
Yes! I really did find it was, like you said, an older coming of age story, a nice path of self-discovery I thought.
 
Yes. Well, you know as women we sometimes get sidetracked, whether we have a career going or we're raising kids, and it's really easy to forget parts of yourself. And sometimes, it takes a catalyst of a divorce, or some other huge change in life to have this sort of reawakening, and it can be really a wonderful, positive thing. I mean, out of my divorce, I really realized my love of writing, and was able to create this book from that place. So, you really can discover gifts that you've forgotten, or just reawakened those parts of yourself that you've long forgotten. And that can be a positive.
 
Definitely! So, the inspiration for Synchronized Breathing, do you think that really comes down to your own experiences of divorce and finding your path to writing?
 
Well, the inspiration really, it did come in a way from my own circumstances and I used my life as a jumping off point, but it's not all my story. There are lots of--there is a lot of me in it, but I couldn't use my exact story because first of all, there are parts that aren't terribly interesting. [Laugh] In terms of making the story really fun and palatable and you know encapsulating, some fun lessons that I learned out of my divorce… That is, so I think my divorce was definitely an inspiration for the book, but it wasn't the sole inspiration. It was sort of a yearning I had to really connect with myself, and then hopefully connect with other women that have that sort of sense of longing feeling like, "Okay, well I did all those things that I thought I was supposed to do, but why do I feel like there is something missing?” That was a goal to hopefully connect with women that have that sense of something's missing.
 
In a story about life and then dating post-divorce (or in the midst of divorce as would be the case here), I found the setting of Los Angeles to be intriguing. So, why L.A.? Did you want to write about some of your own experiences of the city? I have to say you captured it perfectly, all with a nice side of humor there. 
 
Well, I have a love affair with Los Angeles. When I was a little girl growing up in Australia, I just had to be, I had this mission to get to Los Angeles or California. I didn't really understand that L.A. was in California, just everything I watched on TV, or had read in the magazines, everything was American but specifically, California and Los Angeles. And, there's such a distinct type of person, and there's so many muses in L.A. All I need to do is leave the house, and if I go and get coffee, I encounter people that are just begging to be written about. There [are] so many, so many wild characters out here, and of course you hear stories and I've been here for many years myself, and I have a few stories of my own. But, it's really such a melting pot and because people can become successful quickly here, there is that sort of bad behavior and people seem to think that they can get away with a lot. There's that sense of entitlement when they do become successful, so … the comedic potential is so huge here. But I did want a love letter to Los Angeles because I do love it. I think it's really beautiful, and I feel very grateful to be able to live here and enjoy it on a daily basis.
 
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One of my favorite aspects of the book, outside the setting, is your protagonist Scarlett. I love that she's this flawed female character with insecurities. You really capture her loneliness too after leaving her husband and the transformation she undergoes as a single mother. It really becomes a nice path for self-discovery, coming of age like you said. What was the influence for Scarlett?
 
Well again, I think I used some of my own feelings…feeling a bit lost and feeling that I had failed at something. That was a feeling I felt like I knew really well, but I also thought, "I can't be the only woman feeling like this. There must be other women out there that sort of have this sense of, okay what am I going to do now?" There were other people that really inspired me on this journey too. I wanted to tell a story of a woman figuring out who she was after this divorce, and trying to put those pieces back together, and maybe they didn't go so well to begin with. [Laugh] So, it was sort of holding the mystery of herself that she thinks is going to be in a man. She thinks that, that will sort of complete the picture, but she's mistaken in that. It really is a journey about uncovering and discovering herself. And that, that's the real gift in the story. 
 
Okay, I have to bring up Cece, Scarlett's mother! Where did this colorful character come from? Her liveliness definitely jumps off the page…
 
[Laugh] Cece was the most fun to write. My own mother is wickedly witty. She says some very, very funny things, so she was definitely a muse for me….but I could have took it and ran with it. I mean, she's been a very good sport about it because Cece, she's not Cece for sure, but people would like to think she is and she's been very, very understanding about all of it, and had a good sense of humor. But, Cece would be my mother in her wildest dreams.
 
 [Laugh] Okay!
 
I wanted to keep [her] sort of real and not too far out, but still have a sense of wicked adventure and hopefully that comes across. But she's my favorite character by far. Really had a good time with her. 
 
She definitely stands out.
 
Yes! [Laugh]
 
I think you succeeded.
 
You can't define whether she tells the best advice or the worst. She's definitely not your typical mother.
 
Definitely not.
 
No.
 
For Synchronized Breathing, do you see a continuation, like a sequel to it? Do you think you're going to continue with these characters, or are you done?
 
I do have an idea of something fun to do with these characters next. I'm just toying with the idea of whether I should do that or not. So, I haven't decided. There's still going to be [more] there in the story I think. But I might do something else in between, another book in between. ‘Cause living in Los Angeles, there are so many things to write about. I have some ideas brewing at the moment that I'm kind of excited about, so I might have to let those come to life first before I revisit Cece, and Scarlett and the clan.
 
Changing gears a little, are there any authors or particular books that inspire you? Or, that you are influenced by?
 
Well, there are a number of books that I was reading that inspired this book....Helen Fielding [Bridget Jones’ s Diary]...I really wanted  it to read like a girlfriend that's just sitting with you telling you her story, so I wanted it to have that sort of intimacy. And, that's why I did it in first person, so that it, you know, hopefully has that familiar tone of [a] friend sharing secrets. But in general, I'm typically in love with whoever I just read, so at the moment it would be Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch. I am so moved by that woman and her storytelling. I'm just obsessed with her. And then, Gone Girl with Gillian Flynn; I was obsessed with that, so I get really consumed with whatever books I'm reading. But, there's a particular flavor that I wanted Synchronized Breathing to have and that, that is sort of more of the commercial women fiction I guess would be the best way to describe it. 
 
Yeah, a little bit of Chick Lit, maybe?
 
Yes, yes! Chick Lit. Are we allowed to use that term? 
 
I think so…
 
I like Chick Lit! [Laugh] You're not supposed to say that! But it really is....and you want it to be fun and you want it to have a sort of…you know, it's not all about shoes ‘cause I know sometimes you get a Chick Lit book and it's all about the fashion labels and I wanted it to have little bit of that, but it's certainly got a lot more going on than just the fun fashion. Chick Lit I think is a good term.
 
Yeah, there are tons of different kinds of Chick Lit I think. For sure.
 
It's a broad term, isn't it?
 
Yes, very broad! What advice would you give to other aspiring others trying to make it, trying to get published? 
 
The best thing I would say is to keep going because you're going to hear so much advice, and there are certain things that work for some people that wouldn't work for others. And, the best thing to do is keep going. If you keep your practice going of writing your pages, and set your goals for how many you want to do per day or per week, you feel like you're going to have a manuscript, and then you really have something to work on. I did so many drafts of this. The book changed completely I couldn't tell you how many times. I've done at least twenty drafts of this book.  I had a completely different beginning with Scarlett giving birth at one point, and then a totally different ending. There are so many different pieces to this book, but it finally came together and I think that if you're starting out that, if you try to put all pieces together in your head, it's too overwhelming. I didn't think that I would be able to get through this process of writing a book. It was something I had to just gingerly take one step at a time. So, that would be my best advice: to just keep taking those steps even if you have to put away for a little while like I did. But you'll find that if you just keep going back to it and taking those steps, you'll really, before you know it, you'll have a book in your hands. And then, then that opens up a new whole world. And then you can look at submitting it to people, and getting editors to give your advice, and having people read it, and give their recommendation. But, just keep going! That's the most important tip.
 
What’s next for you? Do you have any other upcoming books on the horizon? Any writing projects or something else altogether?
 
Well, at the moment, I've been doing some advice columns almost if you will. I've been doing writing on the Huffington Post…and I have a few short stories that I'm working on, but I don't have a book anywhere near completion at this point. I wish I could share with you that I'm just sitting on the next thing, but it's still in the incubation process.
 
What is the best way for readers and fans to follow you? Or stay up to date with what you're doing?
 
Well, my website is taraellison.com. You can always follow me there. I'm on Twitter: @tellisonauthor. I'm also on Facebook that we have a page for Synchronized Breathing. So, any of those options would be good. I'm much more in the social media realm now than I ever was. I'm a bit of an introvert, so it does take a little bit of prodding, but it's really fun to get out there and hear some people that are reading...who are reading the book. That's really exciting!
 
Is there anything else you want to discuss before you go about Synchronized Breathing?
 
The key with this book is that it appeals to a certain type of woman. If you're a woman that feels like you've done everything right in life, and you've made all the right choices, and everything has been rosy in your life, well God bless you but it's probably not the book for you. Synchronized Breathing is more for people who have, you know, have some life experience and who have not necessarily thought that they figured everything out. So, yeah, I definitely didn't want to have a suave lead character because, I mean maybe…you can get to that level of suaveness or sophistication, but not that many people start out that way. So, I really wanted to unpack that journey of how does someone learn these lessons if you don't come into the world with really great role models intact? How do you learn these things? So, hopefully there's something in there on how do you learn to put yourself first, and how do you learn to take care of yourself when that hasn't been the message that you've received as a kid? So...that process of reinvention at a later date in life was really interesting to me, rather than you know, what some people learn as a teenager ( ideally people learn it earlier), but Scarlett learns it later, and I just thought that it was something to be explored, late bloomers. And that's why I dedicated the book to late bloomers because there's something to be said for learning these things later in life.
 
Well, I think that just makes her more human.
 
Okay, good! [Laugh] Then that makes me happy to hear, thank you!
 
You're welcome! Well thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
 
Absolutely! Thank you Autumn!
 
Again, to learn more about Tara Ellison head on over to her website: http://taraellison.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @Tellisonauthor.  To purchase the book please visit this link at Amazon.
 
To learn more about Autumn Topping, check out her vintage inspired (yet modern) media blogzine: www.silverpetticoatreview.com
 
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Making It In Music On A Path Less Traveled
An Interview with Lindsay Tomasic

By Shirley Craig



Last month we had the privilege of talking to Lindsay Tomasic, musician, composer, record producer and engineer.  Even though her name may not jump out at you, you’ve all probably heard Lindsay’s music, since she is the owner of a very successful music catalog, Frameworks Music.  Since 2005, her music and the music library she produces can be heard all over the world, across all major television networks, as well as in commercials and in film.  Today, production music has become an essential audio ingredient for every major television network and production company. After a solo career, Lindsay Tomasic now works in the trenches creating an astounding library of music together with first class composers and musicians.
 
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So Lindsay, tell me, when did you first pick up a guitar?  
 
I was four or five.
 
Wow! Four or five!
 
Yes, but it wasn’t the guitar initially.  It was a ukulele. My hands were not big enough to fit around a guitar neck.
 
So, were your parents musical? Or did you just know at age four or five you wanted to play? Or did somebody buy you a toy ukulele?
 
My dad was a professional musician.  He was an accordion player and was musical and playful around me. It was really a wonderful influence to have as a child.  He was always coming up with rhythms and I loved imitating them. It was a very exciting part of my childhood.  My dad would pull a harmonica out of his pocket and play a melody and would then give me the harmonica.  I would try my best to imitate what he played.  By the age of five, I was entertaining the kids on the school bus with the songs I learned on the harmonica.
 
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Did he play in a band?
 
Yeah, he had a band but he also played solo as well as in smaller ensembles.
 
And was that how he made his living?
 
No. Music was always an important part of his life, but he also had day jobs, from working on machines in his early adult life to working as a linotype operator at the Daily Mining Gazette newspaper in our hometown. He usually played gigs on the weekends though. Where we lived in upper Michigan, there were not a lot of opportunities for musicians other than playing at the local bars and there were maybe five or six to choose from.
 
Did your parents give you music lessons or did you teach yourself? How did it all evolve?
 
I am a self-taught musician. By the time I was six and ready for a ‘real’ instrument, my folks took me to the local dime store where they had inexpensive acoustic guitars that I had my eye on, and from then on, I was a guitar player.   Although my fingers weren’t long enough, I started by wrapping my thumb around the lower strings to complete a chord and I had chord books around the house that were helpful.  I always found myself attracted to the rhythmic aspect of guitar playing.  It was the closest thing to being a percussionist or a drummer, and rhythms of all kinds inspired me.  Sounds such as the windshield wipers on the car would turn in to metronomes for me, and I loved filling in the blank spaces with catchy phrases. I was a little shy about sharing my singing and guitar playing until around the third grade.  There was a talent show in our class, and I had learned a song called “Little Arrows” that was popular on the radio.  At that point I owned an inexpensive electric guitar and a small amp, which I toted to school.  When it was my turn to perform the song at the talent show I let loose for the first time in front of an audience and my song turned out to be half musical and half comedy.  I remember the whole class roaring with laughter as I exaggerated the chorus.  After I performed that song, I went from being totally un-popular in class, to quite popular, and I was asked to accompany group singing on guitar, as well as to play guitar Mass’ at our church.
 
And what about recording? How did you become interested in it?
 
I was interested in recording from the age of about 12. My father had an RCA reel-to-reel recorder that I learned to operate. Around this time the cassette player was invented and an uncle of mine gave me one as a gift. I loved it and decided that I would try to multi-track my recordings. I would record a guitar part on the old reel to reel. I’d put the reel to reel in playback mode and I would put the cassette transport in record mode while playing another instrument.  So, I had two layers.  I went back and forth a few times adding more layers and of course, the sound was horrible!  But, I was multi-tracking for the first time in my life!
 
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So you basically played guitar throughout your childhood. Did you go to college for music?
 
No, I did not.  At the age of 16, I went out on my own to pursue becoming a professional musician.
 
Good for you.
 
It is interesting because some of my role models like Joni Mitchell and Paul McCartney, are self-taught musicians as well who didn’t necessarily pursue academic music careers.  I guess there is something to be said for being self-taught and self-motivated.
 
So, here you are in upper Michigan, age 16, guitar in hand, and you decided to become a professional musician.  How did you make that work?  Did you go to clubs or bars?
 
I had a few musical friends in the neighborhood.  My friend, Mark, was an excellent guitar player and when we were 12, he and I decided to perform a version of Woodstock in my parent’s backyard. [Laugh] We had a band called “The Shades of Time”.  I wish I had pictures of this band!   There were too many guitar players in the group and we were without a bass player, so I was elected play bass, but I was also the lead singer. I wasn’t thrilled about it at the time, because my role models were guitarist/singers.  The positive outcome was that I learned to play bass at a young age, and developed a better understanding of that instrument as well as how to sing lead and play bass lines simultaneously.  It was a bit challenging, but I made it work! We played at the teen center and for a few benefits, and we managed to pull off that rock festival in my parent’s backyard.  It was fun even though only four or five people showed up. [Laugh]
 
That’s so adventurous and after Woodstock...
 
When I was 16, I met a woman who was 18 who had just graduated from high school and was a fabulous singer-songwriter.  Her name was, and is, Jesse Fitzpatrick.  She and I both played acoustic guitar and we would sing for hours at a time. We listened to Crosby, Stills, and Nash; James Taylor; Carole King and Elton John. We worked diligently on vocal and acoustic guitar arrangements of some of their songs and started to dabble in writing songs of our own.
 
Did you try to go out and play gigs?  Is this how you started to make a living as a musician?
 
Jesse and I had a regular Friday night gig at a local pub called The Douglass House in Houghton, MI and I think we each made $25. We began meeting other musicians in the area that were pretty good and we formed our first acoustic folk rock band. “Trees”.  Actually, the real name of the band was “Trees Again”. We were all 70’s hippies and the philosophy of the name was that we were Trees before, and we were now “Trees Again”.
 
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That's very cool! So when did you leave Michigan?
 
The girlfriend of an LA record producer heard us playing in Michigan and convinced us to come to LA in 1976. So we saved about $1,000 between us and we all traveled in a Dodge van from upper Michigan to Los Angeles and landed on the doorstep of this producer who took us into Cherokee Studios to record our first demo, which was a huge deal.  George Martin was in the next room producing American Flyer.  Captain and Tennille were in the same studio.  We were in good company but our producer wanted to take our sound and really polish it up and make us sound more like a Carpenters sort of band, which we did not want.
 
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 Whow was the producer? 
 
The producer shall go un-named because he is still a working producer in LA.
 
Was that hard – resisting -  I mean, here you were, young and somewhat naïve to the big “music industry,” and a producer lures you in. Was it hard to stick to your own guns?
 
It was very hard, because I felt we should have at least given him a chance. Perhaps he would have seen that he was a bit too controlling, or maybe he would have been able to connect us up with someone more suited to our style.  The rest of the band was very adamant about leaving and heading back to upper Michigan.  I was pretty crushed. Here we were in Los Angeles, it was the ‘70s, and all of that Laurel Canyon groovy stuff was happening all around us. I felt like all we needed to do was stay a little bit longer and be patient with this particular situation. I was out-voted and so we ended up returning to upper Michigan.  When we returned to Michigan, I decided that if I’m going to be in Michigan, I didn’t want to be in the middle of Podunk where there’s nothing going on. So that’s when I decided to figure out a way to move to Ann Arbor.  So I made the decision to just make the move there.   Within a few months of doing this, Jesse followed.
 
In Ann Arbor did you continue to play with Trees Again or did you go off on your own?
 
Yes, Trees continued to perform, but we’ve lost a few branches along the way.  We hooked up with a new bass player and drummer in Ann Arbor who had a bluesy, rock and roll feel.  We became a very popular band in Ann Arbor and had a huge Sunday following at a club called Mr. Flood’s Party. We always packed the place on Sunday afternoons. Trees also spent a couple of years working with a well-established “contact improvisation” dance troop called “Mirage”.  They choreographed several dances to our music and we would perform concerts together.  It was great fun.  It led to Jesse and I spending over a year as artists in residence at the Highpoint Center For The Handicapped. We worked with the dancers there as a team and wound up getting a state of Michigan grant to write and record an album of music for children with special needs.  The album was called “Let It Out” and was released in 1980 to a limited audience. We were also playing other gigs whenever one came available that was right for us. Although it was difficult to make a living as musician, we were doing fairly well getting gigs as Trees. I performed by myself every now and then as well as I felt inclined to be a street musician. There was a beautiful arcade in Ann Arbor with great acoustics.  I would park myself and my guitar case in front of the flower shop there a few times a week and would sing for a couple of hours.  I always made excellent tips there and I loved the spontaneity of street performing
 
Did you play cover material or did you do your own original stuff too?
 
We primarily played original material, but we also did some ‘60s and ‘70s covers
 
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So for those ten years though, you, Jesse, and The Trees were a successful band in Michigan?
 
Yes, we were a really successful local band
 
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During that time, since technology was very different. Did you ever have a chance to record anything?
 
Actually, yes.  We were invited to record in a couple of really nice studios in the Ann Arbor area, but I wanted our music to be more “self-produced”.  I had invested some money in a Tascam four track tape machine and learned to use a small analogue mixer. Little by little, my recordings became a lot more professional and I started getting better at producing the songs I was recording.  This was a big turning point for me. At the point I felt ready to dive in to producing and recording on a professional level I had the great fortune of working with an outstanding recording engineer / producer in Ann Arbor named Geoff Michael.  He helped me transition to an 8 track recording system and taught me so much.  Geoff and I turned the basement of my duplex into a small production studio and we turned out some pretty good music in that little room! To this day, I still rely on the basic principals of recording that he taught me.  When I decided to make the move to LA in 1987, I bought a small pickup truck and managed to load it up with all my recording equipment and instruments.
 
Was leaving Los Angeles one of your big regrets?
 
No, because as it turned out, I ended up in Los Angeles about 11 years later with a lot more confidence as well as some experience to actually be able to deal with the ups and downs of the industry and with more of an understanding of how to target what I wanted. Moving to LA at the age of 31 was so much better.  The burden of trying to “make it” with Trees was now lifted and this was a golden opportunity for me to just go out on my own and try to fulfill some of my dreams even though I knew there would be obstacles along the way and that maybe my career wouldn’t turn out exactly how I had imagined it would.
 
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So, how'd you get your foot in the door here in LA once you returned?
 
I tried to make my living playing cover songs wherever I could get a gig, because I knew it was going to take a while to establish myself as an original artist or producer.  I went to the Chamber of Commerce to get a listing of all of the clubs and hotel lounges where there was live music and I found two or three agents and then narrowed it down to one agent who pretty quickly booked me into the Miramar Sheraton in Santa Monica.  However, the Sheraton only had a piano lounge and I’m a guitar player.  So he said to me, “Look, learn four or five songs on the piano for your audition, because the general manager never comes down into the lounge to really listen to music. They just want to know you can play the piano.”  So I learned “Let it Be” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, and a couple other standards, well enough on the piano so that during the audition, I could sit there and sing and play piano and sound like I knew what I was doing, and I got the gig. Anytime the general manager would show up in the lounge  I would immediately switch from playing guitar to playing the piano, but for the most part, I’d play my sets on guitar. Drum machines were big at that time, and I spent hours programming drum and percussion parts to just about all of my songs. I covered a lot of ‘80s songs and of course threw in all the classic rock stuff that I had known for years.
 
How long did you play there for?
 
I played in hotel lounges from 1987 until 1992.  I was super ambitious and eager to work.  In 1988, I would play the Happy Hour at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel from 5:00 until 7:00pm.  Then I would get off work, have a little dinner, and head to either the Miramar Sheraton or the L.A. Hilton or the New Otani Hotel and Lounge in downtown L.A. and play from 9:00PM until 1:00AM six nights a week.
 
Wow, that was some life!
 
Yeah, it was crazy and during the daytime hours, I was also doing business recording and producing demos for songwriters in a small bedroom studio in our Santa Monica apartment. 
 
And is that how you started to get into the whole producing thing?
 
Yes. The bedroom studio in Santa Monica was where I honed my production, recording and songwriting skills.  I became a member of the National Academy of Songwriters, They held Saturday meetings in Hollywood and they would bring a music publisher in to review original songs.  I met a lot of interesting people at these song pitches who wound up being very important in my career.  One of them was a woman named Barbara Jordan, who eventually became the owner of one of the biggest TV and Film song catalogs, “Heavy Hitters”. Until she sold her company around 2003, she was calling me to write songs that would be pitched to many TV shows, and the amount of placements I had with her was incredible.  During the late 1980’s I also met music producer, Tena Clark, who at the time was working as an independent producer for Motown and Capital Records and working with young R&B bands.  My bedroom studio quickly became Tena’s  demo studio, and I learned how to work under pressure as a recording engineer; to meet deadlines and make sure the recordings were up to snuff.  While working with Tena, I also made a great connection with her then drummer, Quinn.  
 
He and I went on to produce our own demo reel to present to TV and advertising producers. One of our original instrumental pieces caught the ear of a producer who was working with Roseanne Barr.  Roseanne was about to transition from her sitcom to a talk show of her own and needed a theme song.  The swampy sounding instrumental piece that Quinn and I wrote became the theme for the first year of Roseanne’s talk show. It was one of the highlights of our composing career as a team. In the mid-90’s we went on to produce a small music library that was exclusive to CBS Television producers.  After having success with the Roseanne show as well as with CBS, I became well aware of the value of songwriting royalties.  Singer/ Songwriter Lauren Wood also came in to my life during the days of the Santa Monica studio and we collaborated a lot, writing and producing some great music together. In fact, we still make music together today.
 
During this time, did you ever do any session work?
 
Yes, I did.  I’d get asked to sing or play on other people’s demos. However, I was never 100% comfortable as a session player or singer, given the fact that I play by ear. A lot of the time, as a guitar player in particular, people would put a chart in front of you and they’ll just start playing a track. For me, if somebody wanted me to play on their session, I would really want to study the music by ear and get to know it and work up some parts and bring that to the session. Lauren Wood gave me the opportunity to join her on her recordings in the 1990s.  She had some nice things going on and she loved my guitar playing.
 
So you don't read music?
 
No, I never have.
 
Was there ever a point that you thought to yourself, “You know what, I need to learn how to read music?”
 
Yeah, there were several points where I considered learning. I would say, “Okay, I’m going to do this”. But, I just never got around to it. I guess I wasn’t motivated enough to do it.  Many people have said to me, “Well, if you’re able to identify the chords that you’re playing, you’ll be okay” and the truth is, that’s kind of how I've gotten around it. I pretty much know all the chords that I’m playing and I can follow a guitar chord chart now and I’m fine with it.
 
You must have an amazing ear.
 
I think because of my dad, I acquired a really good ear.  I heard an interview with Joni Mitchell once and she’s kind of in the same boat.  She had no idea what she’s playing either.  It was through osmosis and playing with some of the greatest musicians in the world that she got a handle on what she’s playing, but even in recent interviews, I’ve heard her say, “No, I don’t understand anything about music theory.  It just kind of comes from inside.”
 
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That’s really an amazing talent.  
 
Oh, thank you.  Well, I think that a lot of the Motown musicians were untrained as well and Michael Jackson, for one, he could come up with all these parts and not know a single thing about music theory or song structure and just be able to create amazing music.
 
That was probably true also of the early rock ‘n’ roll and blues pioneers.  It was all coming from within rather than being schooled musicians. The music evolved...
 
Exactly.
 
I think some musicians, pobably acquired those skills, but initially, I can’t imagine The Beatles were sitting around reading music charts. 
 
Yes, in fact, when Paul McCartney was working on the string parts to “Yesterday”, he really knew nothing about writing music, but he was able to communicate with George Martin what he was hearing in his head.  So he had somebody next to him write the charts and get it to the musicians and, in this day and age, I really don’t feel like I’m in a bad position because I have my bass player, Larry Tuttle, who is such an amazing music transcriber that whenever I write a song, I send him an mp3 in an email and he sends me fully notated sheet music for the song.
 
Ok. Now, let’s talk about Frameworks Music.  Your production music catalog. How did that get started and what made you decide, “I’m going to create a music library”?
 
To make a very long story short, I made a bunch of cold calls to all the Television networks in LA back in the mid 1990’s. I finally made contact with a very kind man, Warren Giancaterino, who was working as a composer himself, at CBS in the on-air promo division. Through his generosity and interest in what I was doing, I had my first opportunity to create a small catalog of music that became accessible to CBS producers.  His amazing guidance put me in a unique position.  After at least six months of on-air success, Warren introduced me to Elisabeth Oei from the Sonoton production music catalog, (based in Germany). Elisabeth commissioned me to compose a series of albums for the company.  Within a few months, other production music companies in Los Angeles and around the world were offering me contracts to write for their companies.  I was able to make a living taking on new productions with these companies and it started making sense to me that this could be a good career direction for me.  The CEO of DMI Music, Tena Clark, was so impressed with how far I’d come in this realm that she approached me in late 1999 about starting a production music catalog as a division to her already very successful company.  After thinking about it for several months, I decided to take her up on her offer and came on board as one of the founding members of 5 Alarm Music, (now one of the largest independent production music catalogs in the world).  I was the catalog’s executive producer during its formative years.

After getting a better feel for executive producing a large catalog I thought it might be good timing to leave 5 Alarm and build something that I could own. I wanted to be my own boss and create my own schedule and I had a different vision for the kind of catalog I would produce.   It was not an easy step or an easy choice.  By 2003, In addition to working for 5 Alarm I became the manager of the world class Firehouse Recording Studios in Pasadena, making a great living and feeling somewhat financially comfortable, but by 2005, I decided to leave that comfort zone behind and take the plunge. It was then that I launched my company, Frameworks Music.  I am so grateful today for this act of faith in myself.

What happened to 5 Alarm Music? Does it still exist?
 
Yeah, they’re huge. I should’ve had a better contract though. [Laugh] I should’ve tried to own a piece of it instead of just being an employee.
 
Right, well, you live, you learn, right?
 
Yes.
 
When you started Frameworks, did you have to struggle to get your own company going or did it all seem to flow seamlessly from 5 Alarm Music?
 
I had to learn how to manage the workflow, but once I had my first five albums done, I ran into obstacles of how best to distribute the music. It was more difficult than I imagined and I wound up with a small distributor in Santa Monica who was a bit too small.  Eventually, I signed Frameworks to a larger company called Nonstop Music, which has now become Warner Chappell Production Music. Currently, Frameworks is part of their distribution catalog in the USA.  Signing with a distributor anywhere in the world, means having to give up a 50% of the income. This is standard in our industry. It has turned out to be a good decision though and as Warner Chappell PM grows and becomes more of a force in the industry, we are seeing continued success as well.  Our catalog is about to release album #70.
 
There’s always a price to pay, isn’t there?
 
There is, but sharing 50% of something is better than making 100% of not so much!  These days the industry is going through quite a roller coaster ride.  Between the digital music revolution and the royalty free catalogs that are out there, we are presented with so many more challenges in increasing our market share. I’m just happy to be looking back over the past nine years with gratitude that Frameworks has managed to ride the waves and remain successful.
 
That’s really wonderful. You hung in there and now you’re reaping the rewards. So when did you start trying to establish yourself as a solo artist?
 
Right, the solo artist period was between 1995 and 2012.
 
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Is that something that today you still lust after pursuing?
 
Well, I sort of lost my steam for it.  I had to come to terms with how much touring and self-promotion a person has to do to get their music out there, and with running a production business full time, it’s a bit daunting.  In the singer/songwriter world, it is also much more difficult to establish yourself.   It’s not like other music genres. I’d have to put myself in the trenches with all the 20 and 30 year olds that are doing the same thing you’re doing, only in your mid-50s, it can really be exhausting and not very financially rewarding.
 
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Recently, you began producing young artists yourself, right? Can you talk about your indie label "Datolite Records" and how it differs from your other artist driven catalogs, "Ear Parade" and  "Song Junkies"?
 
Yes, I decided to further develop Datolite Records to include other artist material besides my own.  It started with discovering indie artist Radz, who caught my ear as being an incredible raw talent.  I took Radz in to the studio and surrounded him with the “A” team of musicians.  We worked on six of his songs over a period of nine months and then released “Ramshackle Heart” as his debut EP www.datoliterecords/radz   Radz is starting to get some nice attention.  The EP caught the ear of a music supervisor at CBS Television and has led to Datolite Records being signed with CBS as an indie label.   I’m also working with Americana singer /songwriter, Abby Posner, a Colorado native now living in LA.  Although I have released some of her songs on my production music labels, we are also working on a handful of her songs that will be released later this year on Datolite Records. It’s been quite a year for me, being in the producer chair with incredible talent.  I’m also working with a pop duo from the Inland Empire who call themselves “Actual Size”. We are now completing a ten song album that will be released in the fourth quarter of this year.
 
datolite_logo.jpeg“Ear Parade” is distributed by Current Music in Los Angeles, which was started in 2012 as a partnership with two highly successful industry partners, Maddie Madsen and Christian Salyer.  It’s a very fresh catalog with a contemporary sound.  “Ear Parade” features talented young artists in styles you would hear on the radio today.
 
“Song Junkies” was established in late 2013 as a division of Frameworks Music and features TV and Film friendly, world class, vocal music.  Our current releases with Song Junkies include: a collection of European songs, a classic singer-songwriter collection, a nu-grass album and we are in production with some vintage style vocal music.
 
I’m excited to be getting all of this great music out there and it has been so worth it to me to involve more artists in the process.
 
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I think that’s smart.  I guess it’s probably been a decade or so now, that TV series like Grey’s Anatomy started playing songs that had some reference to the episode as opposed to just background music.
 
Absolutely!  That’s exactly where these catalogs can fit in.
 
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And how are Song Junkies and Ear Parade doing? 
 
They are doing well, but I think the difficulty still remains in just getting ears on the music because of the saturation. So it is even more important to have all irons in the fire.  Promoting artists outside the realm of production music has been an interesting departure and I’ll be curious to see where it all lands.  It’s been nice getting positive feedback with Radz.
 
That’s very exciting.  (To listen to Radz's music click here.)
 
So now, Lindsay, tell me how "The Peculiars" came about?
 
Well, The Peculiars actually came about nearly 20 years ago but never had a name, we were just friends jamming. It was Novi Novog, Lauren Wood, Larry Tuttle, Larry Treadwell and me. We’d play at a birthday party in my backyard and there were would be a few family members and friends present.  We realized that we kind of had a cool thing going and so a friend of Lauren’s was having this big party in the Hollywood Hills to show off her new home.  She’s a designer/decorator, so she said, “Do you think your jam band can come play at my party?”  So “The Peculiars” got their clever name last August by playing on her deck and maybe 100 people heard us that night and started asking us if we were available to play gigs. [Laugh] That’s when we realized that having a band name was a good thing.  When Larry Treadwell suggested being called “The Peculiars” we all chimed in, “We’ll take it.  Sounds great.” [Laugh]]
 
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Very cool. And now you’re playing all around town.  Your next gig is at Café Cordiale in Sherman Oaks on August 31st, right?
 
Yes.
 
You concentrate on playing mostly ‘60s and ‘70s music? 
 
Yes. The music is terrific and it’s really a fun thing. We just love playing together and we always have a good time doing it! A lot of other talented singers, actresses, and actors have been interested in performing with us. Our second set has become a bit of a showcase.
 
Yes, there’s over a generation of experience and talent in this one band. 
 
There is. We just get together, feel the music and play. We don’t even have to rehearse.
 
Wow! Having seen The Peculiars perform, I would recommend to all our readers if you’re in the area when they play, don’t miss out on a really fun concert.  
 
Thank you.
 
Your story is so interesting, Lindsay. From a little kid in Michigan who wanted to be a musician, you’ve taken your love of music, your desire to play, compose and produce, brought it to Los Angeles and turned it into a successful career without having to be the ‘rock star.’
 
Yeah, I guess you’re right.
 
You have.
 
You know how it is though. Sometimes when you’re doing it, you don’t realize what you’re doing.
 
You created a set of circumstances for yourself, that allowed your talent to flow to become successful rather than wait for somebody else to do it for you.

Yeah, well you summed that up. [Laugh]
 
You beat the system. You’ve proved that you can be a successful musician without having to say to yourself, “If I don't have a hit record I haven’t made it.”
 
Exactly and an important point that I would like to make out of all of this and that is to encourage young musicians who are just starting out to fill up their bucket with a ton of music that they can get licensed out there in the world and to spend time learning the art of creating music that can be utilized in TV and Film because you can make a really nice living doing this. A lot of young artists are just so focused on being a star and a very few people actually live that dream.
 
Great Advice for young artists reading this. Was it harder doing it as a woman?
 
It is harder doing this as a woman, but there are more and more of us surfacing these days as engineers and producers.  It’s a great time. 10 years from now they may call us “pioneers”.
 
You are an inspiration to all young musicians out there: don’t give it all up if you can’t get that million dollar record deal, just keep the music coming.
 
Exactly, just keep the music coming.
 
To visit Lindsay’s production music website, Frameworks Music/Song Junkies go to frameworksmusic.com.  To experience Lindsay’s career as a solo artist and her indie lable visit datoliterecords.com. 
 
And don’t forget to put August 31st on your calendar if you are in the Los Angeles area and go see a remarkable group of musicians, The Peculiars, play their hearts out!
 
Datolite Records indie artists – Aaron Radz - Radz hails from the deep woods in the far north of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His music portrays Blues, Roots and Soul sensibilities with lyrics derived from a place of provincial isolation.
 
Abby Posner - From new-folk, to bluegrass and pop, Posner twists genres to create a fresh, catchy sound.  The sounds you hear are both pleasantly dark and playful.  With banjo and percussive grooves paving the road for each unique composition.  Abby’s clever songs and vocals are both forces to be reckoned with.
 
Photo Credit: First Image and Home Page photograph: Sherry Rayn Barnett
 
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Dancing With The Stars
Choreographer Sharna Burgess

By Brittany Lombardi



Sharna BurgessInspiration can come from any aspect of our lives; the bright flowers in our garden, the people that we see at Starbucks every morning, or remarkably talented ballroom dancers like Sharna Burgess from Dancing with the Stars. Being a part of a renowned show has not only become a ‘job’ for Burgess, the cast and crew have become her family. “I love coming to work everyday to just have fun with my friends from the show. One thing I will always cherish is how close we have all become.”

However, before the launch of her career as a famous dancer and choreographer, Sharna grew up in the countryside of Austrailia, climbing trees and playing sports. “I was involved in everything! Basketball, softball, jazz, tap, ballet and gymnastics- I did it all!” Around eight years old, Burgess observed her first ballroom competition a family member was participating in. Instantly, she fell in love with the shiny colorful elaborate costuming as well as the positive social energy that filled the room. Competing in many local national tournaments, earning several titles, at fifteen, Burgess was chosen to represent Australia at the World Championships and had the privilege of performing in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony.

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Looking to advance her career and skills as a young upcoming dancer, at eighteen, Burgess moved to London where she won more awards in competitions and appeared on the show Simply Ballroom. Renowned Broadway choreographer Jason Gilkison recruited Burgess to be a part of his cast of Burn The Floor of which she was a part of for six years. Coincidentally, Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy were in the audience at a few of her performances and loved Burgess’s spunky stage presence, offering her to be a part of Dancing with the Stars on several occasions. Unfortunately, due to preexisting contract negotiations, she had to decline.

Upon her departure from Broadway, Burgess quickly made the transition to film and television, guest appearances on Dancing with the Stars Australia and So You Think You Can Dance Holland. In 2011, working with A-list choreographers to fuse the hip hop and Latin to create a new style of dance, Burgess choreographed her first feature film, Street Dance 2 – 3D.

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Today, as she balances being a full-time cast member on Dancing with the Stars perfecting her craft as an actor and dancer, Burgess is working with her boyfriend, professional choreographer Paul Kirkland on creating a dance convention, featuring master classes in all styles of dance, focusing primarily on the socialistic benefits and art of ballroom dancing. “Ultimately, I want my legacy to live on through our dance communities. Not everyone has the money or opportunity to take a dance class. I want to give back to those that wish to dance simply because it is therapeutic to them, a way to escape.”

In addition to entertaining audiences, Sharna also takes pride in teaching, sharing her passion and knowledge with others. As people, we struggle everyday to find ways to set ourselves apart from the rest, to be better or improve. When it comes to dancing, whether beginner or advanced, Sharna encourages all dancers to “remember to keep an open mind, find your own unique style in your movement. Everyone’s dance experience is different- learn to be yourself. Dance is about self expression- be the dancer you want to be.”

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