Soprano singer returns to Central Alberta

Nicole Brooks’ performance to benefit the Ringa School in Kenya

This weekend, soprano singer Nicole Brooks will be returning to Central Alberta to perform at St. Andrew’s United Church in Lacombe.

Brooks said she is looking forward to the homecoming.

“I love coming home and singing for everyone around there,” said Brooks. She added that she enjoys performing for friends and family as they do not have much exposure for this style of music.

“I love coming and bringing something different and interesting to them.”

Hailing from Wetaskiwin, Brooks started her singing career at the age of 14 when she began taking voice lessons from Melrose Randell in Lacombe.

As a child, Brooks loved to sing but had no interest in formal training.

“I would sing all over the house all the time,” said Brooks.

Eventually, with the encouragement of her mother, Brooks decided to try voice lessons. She quickly learned that she had a talent for singing and a voice for opera.

Brooks added she found that strange as she knew nothing about opera.

Recognizing Brooks’ talent, her instructor, Randell, urged her to continue her classical training, telling Brooks that, if she had classical training she could sing any genre of music she liked.

“Melrose was a very large part of encouraging me to continue.”

As she continued her musical training, Brooks slowly developed a strong love for music, even the operatic style she previously had no interest in. She said that she took part in some opera competitions and finished very well, winning many of them, which spurred her further to continue her training.

Before taking voice lessons, Brooks had also started studying piano at the age of eight.

She continued playing the piano until the end of high school, but said it hasn’t really stuck with her the way singing has.

Brooks said that while she had little interest in opera originally, the more she was exposed to it the more she began to enjoy it.

“I think part of it for me was I didn’t know much about (opera),” said Brooks. “When you don’t know much about something, it’s hard to have an appreciation for it. So as I was exposed to more of it, I started to fall in love with it.”

Anyone who has heard opera before knows there are some pretty impressive feats of voice involved in the art.

As a soprano, Brooks sings in the highest pitch of all opera singers.

While hitting some of those notes might seem like a superhuman feat to some, Brooks said it just comes with a lot of practice.

“It’s a lot of training.” She added that, for herself, a natural ability helps. “I always could sing high, I didn’t really have to work a lot at high notes.”

Opera singers train to learn breath control and practice techniques that allow reaching any notes easier.

Today, Brooks attends the University of British Columbia where she is studying for a degree in music with a major in opera performance. Brooks added she plans to remain at UBC and pursue her master’s after obtaining her bachelor’s degree in hopes of having a career as an opera singer.

Brooks performs as part of An Evening of Classical Music at St. Andrew’s United Church on Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Admission to the concert is free but donations to the local humanitarian organization A Better World are accepted.

All proceeds raised at the event will go to feeding the children and building sanitary structures at the Ringa School in Kenya.