Close Up Interview with Singer & Actress Vivienne Powell

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I am a singer and actress. I have also done some voice over work. For most of my professional life in the performing arts, I have been a concert artist as a classical and opera singer.  I started my working life as a teacher – a classroom teacher – and I also trained many children’s choirs and vocal ensembles over my teaching career. Some years ago I returned to my love of acting, and now like to combine both disciplines, singing and acting.

Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love?

Human beings inspire me, characters that capture my imagination, whether in a song or a play, film or television program. I love to tell someone’s story, even if it’s just in a three- minute song. People and their stories fascinate me.

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“Sentimental Journey”
A tribute in song to Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day and Julie London, with a surprise appearance by Maria Callas.

Where do you get your inspiration from when you sing & perform?

The individual journey of the character, how the character meets and overcomes challenges. This is what I find inspirational. Great artists inspire me, great singers, great actors, and visual artists whose work I find beautiful. People who are at the top of their craft, great talent, intelligence, compassion, humanity, all these qualities inspire me. And inspiration also comes from within, trusting that one does have the answers inside oneself. Trusting in one’s own inner guidance. In order for me to feel inspired it is also important for me to feel at peace, to have at least some contact with nature regularly and to not feel overwhelmed and burdened.

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?

Loyal, kind, brave, talented, warm

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?

My very first job was as a casual sales assistant in a pharmacy when I was a teenager, to raise money for a school trip to New Zealand. I then graduated to a holiday sales assistant job in a dress shop, which helped to convince me that retail was not to be my chosen career path. For some reason, which I am still not quite able to fathom, I did not choose a career in the performing arts when I left school, but became a teacher instead, even though the happiest times for me were performing solo roles in the college music productions. That’s when I felt most alive. The rest of the training I generally found quite boring, well unfulfilling to say the least. But for some reason, maybe lack of self-belief, I continued on, rather than leave and study music and acting full time.  Later on, when I had been studying singing for some years, I started to sing professionally in recitals and concerts, and it grew from there. The passion unfurled and has continued to grow over the years, and now it’s stronger than it ever has been.

New  Release CD
Sentimental Journey with Doris, Ella & Julie

Tell us about your current show “Sentimental Journey with Doris, Ella & Julie?

In June and July this year, I performed my solo cabaret show, “Sentimental Journey”, which opened in the Hunter Valley, followed by two performances at the Sound Lounge, the cabaret room at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. The show was based on the lives and music of Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London and Doris Day, with a special tribute to Maria Calls with the singing of the “Habanera” from the opera “Carmen”. It was two years in the planning – gathering and learning the music, researching the lives of my artists, and writing and learning the script. I performed it with a jazz trio, piano, double bass and drums. It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot, about the artists I researched, about myself and about the art of cabaret. Along with the cabaret, I recorded my first CD, also entitled “Sentimental Journey”.

I would have done other performances of the cabaret, but I needed to get busy learning new repertoire for my Farewell Concert, “From Schubert to Sondheim’, before I leave to further my career in the US in early November. The first performance was in the Hunter Valley on 15 September, and the Sydney concert is on 7 October at Killara.

Farewell Sydney Concert,7 October at Killara

As a Singer & performer, what is your biggest frustration?

Self marketing and promoting my own shows. Finding promoters who will believe in my vision as strongly as I do.  I am also looking to work with a scriptwriter for my next solo project.

Tell us about how you prioritise your work.

It is important for me to start the memorization process early and in plenty of time before a performance, and to have adequate rehearsal time, in order to provide the most fertile ground for the blossoming of self-confidence and to avoid feeling panic stricken and overwhelmed, states which supress creativity. It helps to focus on the next project in hand, and to avoid the mind flying in all directions. This is when the thinking becomes scattered, and our work can suffer as a result.

Sentimental Journey- Special tribute to Maria Calls

Can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your audience/fans (i.e. how do you network)?

I find some online networking, such as Linked In and Facebook, and online performing arts sites, such as Stage Whispers, helpful in connecting with other artists and in expanding my audience. I feel there is more I can do in this regard though. Master classes and workshops are also helpful in bringing artists together.

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?

Believe in yourself and what you have to offer.  If you have blocks to feeling good about yourself, then get some help, as this is so vital. Realise that you are unique, and no one else can offer the world what you do. Be very firm about quieting (or silencing) the negative voices in your head, as these can cripple creativity and sabotage your success. Once again, get help if you can’t do this on your own. Have a support network and surround yourself with positive people who believe in you. Avoid regular contact with negative people who drain your energy. Negativity can be toxic. Avoid it as much as you can.  Read inspiring books, listen to inspiring messages, be around people who make you laugh, who are kind.  Spend regular times in nature. Have inspiring role models, whether you know them personally, or if they are other artists whose work you admire.

What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?

I have another two projects that I am developing, involving bringing together my acting and singing skills, as a classical and cabaret artist, so it will be exciting to see these come to fruition. I would love to do more singing with orchestras as a concert singer. I would love to do some interesting film and television work, in the US the UK and Australia. I would love to do my own cabaret shows in New York. I would love to sing professionally in Paris. I would love to do more singing work with jazz musicians. I want to record another CD, next time with orchestra. I have a number of dreams that I envision! That is just a few.

What is your proudest moment so far?

Personally, it would be the birth of my three children. Professionally, it would be singing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on the Concert Hall stage of the Sydney Opera House and being called back for a second curtain call. Graduating with my master’s degree in music, Master of Creative Arts, was a pretty special moment too. Holding the completed thesis when it had just been printed…yes I felt very proud and moved then also. That’s more than one special moment, but they’re all up there with each other in their own special way.

Performance at The City Recital hall

Who do you most want to meet and why?

As an actress, I am greatly inspired by the work and life of Meryl Streep. I find her talent to be extraordinary. She is always riveting to watch on screen and I learn something new about the craft from each of her films, in fact from each scene! I also love her as a person, her warmth, fierce intelligence and sense of fun.  She is so grounded and has healthy relationships with her husband, children and friends. As a singer, I would love to meet the great opera singer Jessye Norman, for her dignity, her unshakeable sense of self, and of course her fabulous voice. After doing intensive research on Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald and Julie London for my cabaret show, “Sentimental Journey”, I would love to meet Doris Day, now 88, whom I admire enormously. She is open, active and positive, all traits I admire. I would be over the moon if I could meet Doris when I return to the US soon to live. I keep that vision!

What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?

Always be true to yourself, and have the courage to go for your dreams. Do what you love, what excites you, what you feel passionate about. I have not always done this in my life, and to live this way now is very liberating. It sometimes takes a lot of courage, to take the next step in one’s journey, when the outcome isn’t clear. That’s where trust is important, when you’ve done all you can, then it’s important to let go and trust, in life, in a higher power, whatever is meaningful to the individual. Oh, and never think you are too old, or too young, or too anything, to go for your dreams! Now is exactly the right time.

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?

I am reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown, and also constantly dipping into “Spiritual Liberation” by Michael Bernard Beckwith, one of my favourite spiritual teachers. I could highly recommend both of these wonderful books and also two classics which have helped me a lot on my journey, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers and “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson. And I must also mention another classic, “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise L Hay. I also admire her enormously. She’s 82 and still growing, still learning, and living life to the full.

Coffee in Paris

Where do we find you? 

My website is My performances and projects are listed there.
My CD, “Sentimental Journey”, is available at my personal performances and will be available online through my website soon.My next performance is my Farewell Concert, “From Schubert to Sondheim”, on Sunday 7 October in the lovely Killara Uniting Church, cnr Karranga Ave and Arnold St, Killara. It starts at 5pm and entry is $25 (at the door) The repertoire is very wide ranging, from classical song and opera to musical theatre, songs by Cole Porter, Piaf, the wonderful music of Steven Sondheim, and more. At the piano is the acclaimed Glenn Amer, known as having “the fingers of Liberace and the voice of Pavarotti”.
Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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