The first time I saw the Lon Chaney silent version of Phantom of the Opera, I was about eleven. I was frightened but equally fascinated by the masked Phantom, the movie’s man/monster whose real name was Erik.
Later I came across the colorful film adaptation starring Claude Rains, and I developed my first crush on a movie character. His voice floating through the mirror enthralled me, and the melancholy melody he played on the violin was unforgettable. I thought him so handsome in the mysterious mask and was captivated by his efforts to win the trust of the young opera singer.
In the early 90’s my husband and I attended an LA based performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical starring Michael Crawford. I shall never forget the first commanding chords played on the organ as the gold and crystal chandelier rose above the audience. When the Phantom first appeared in the mirror I forgot everything else around me; the audience, the auditorium…they all receded into the mist as he beckoned Christine through the glass.
When the 2004 film version was released I was once again swept away by the Phantom. What followed was a burst of creativity as I was compelled to explore the Phantom character through writing poetry and songs, and was inspired to write my own ‘retelling’ of the story that had charmed me as a child. However, writing a novel is not an easy undertaking. There were many stops and starts along the way. Family illnesses, publishing challenges-one obstacle after another threw me off my course. I confess that there were times when I was ready to give up…but I didn’t!
… as they say, ” the difference between success and failure is perseverance!”
I am happy to announce that finally, after nine years of struggling to bring this series to publication, Chanson de l’Ange will have its official release this October in both paperback and eBook!
Thanks to all Chanson readers and fans for hanging in there with me…and stay tuned for purchasing info: Chanson de l’Ange
Immortal Aria is a bit unusual for a music group. In fact, we haven’t quite defined what we are yet. We are not a band in the sense that we don’t perform our music live, neither are we a singing group, yet we write and produce songs that are meant to be recorded. Although I am a singer, over the years I have not kept my voice in shape while I pursued other artistic passions, therefore, I write songs that require vocalists other than myself.
We decided early on that we wanted to collaborate with undiscovered talent. Artists who are exceptionally gifted, but who may not have been recorded yet, and who have not yet gained a large following. This led us to begin searching the web for talent that could give my songs the right heart and voice.
I actually began writing the songs for this CD back in 2006. It has been a slow process, as during the time Nathan and I have been working on the album, I have also been writing and polishing my 3 part novel series-which is the inspiration for all the music our CD contains. Upon composing The Bleeding Rose, I knew I wanted a little girl with a trained voice, so I began searching youtube for fresh and undiscovered talent.
Along the way I discovered Jackie Evancho‘s channel. At that time she was only 8 years old! As a fan of Phantom of the Opera, I was enchanted by a talent show performance of her singing Wishing You Somehow Here Again. Initially I had intended to contact her parents about the possibility of her recording my song, however, real life intervened and our work on the CD was set aside for a time.
When we were finally ready to work on the project again, by then Jackie had come in second place on AGT-and as they say, the rest is history! She was suddenly swept up and signed by a big label, and I knew she was then out of reach.
I also happened to come across the youtube channel for a darling young lady from New Zealand called Toni Gibson. At the time I was searching for a little girl voice, so although Toni’s was the most remarkable and beautiful voice I had ever heard in my life-she was not a child. But I was enchanted and kept returning to her page to listen to her home made live performance videos, then finally got brave enough to contact her and ask if she would be interested in singing as “my Christine”.
At the time Toni felt the logistics would be difficult, as I am in the US and she is in New Zealand and did not have easy access to a recording studio. Via emailing back and forth she informed me that she would be unable to record for us, despite the fact that I practically begged her!
I then decided to hold a competition through my website and invited young female vocalists to submit samples of their vocal skills through my email, hoping to find someone of Toni’s quality. I was stunned by all the recordings and youtube videos I received and although I heard some truly beautiful voices-I could not get Toni’s voice out of my head. I wanted her, and only her! So I contacted her again and fortunately we were able to work out the logistics! She was able to record our material during the sessions for her own CD which was also beginning production.
She agreed to record The Bleeding Rose, and as I continued to write more songs, Toni eventually contracted with us to record two more pieces for the Chanson de l’ange CD. Nathan and I are very honored to have an artist of Toni’s calibre as one of our collaborators. We feel that our music and her exceptional vocal talents are a perfect match, and we hope to work with her again in the future.
As I post this article, Toni has just begun the first leg of a New Zealand concert series to promote Echo in my Soul, her debut CD, released in May of this year. I believe that one day we will see this young lady perform in fully staged concerts; complete with elaborate costumes, special effects and all the theatricality her talent commands. Like Sarah Brightman, Toni possesses a magical “dark and light” combination that makes her as intriguing to watch as she is beautiful to listen to. She is truly an artist of the senses.
We invite you to visit Toni’s website to discover for yourself a voice that comes along once in a generation: Toni Gibson
Sign up to the newsletter for updates and product offers!