“Hey, Google, play Votave.” The sounds of 11 acapella members fill my home with a variety of Disney songs, and holiday classics such as You’re a Mean One Mister Grinch, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas. A few of many songs they have available. However, what caught my attention was that I stopped what I was doing to really listen to their beautiful voices and be truly present. These are songs I grew up listening to, especially as a Disney and Christmas fanatic so I was so mesmerized by their flawless arrangement. There is something truly magical about Voctave thanks to the creator, Jamey Ray. And I have to thank him for truly being a wonderful role model especially for young boys, such as my son, who love the performing arts. So naturally, it was a great opportunity to interview him for the launch of their Spirit of the Season Tour.
I interviewed him during his first visit to Disneyland which made me so excited because I am a Disney AP holder and fanatic. So we already started our conversation off on the right foot. Here’s a part of our conversation.
How did you get into this industry? I started music early, as I can humanly remember. I first started in 2nd grade in a boy’s choir. My parents put me and that’s where I learned everything sight reading, music theory and how to sing. And that’s what really set me off. I sang all the way through school, college and grad school. I thought it would be a hobby and I had other areas I was majoring in and working on. Then I got out into the real world and realized that music was it – music was the thing to do. I have been doing it forever, and loved it forever ever since I was little.
Was it your choice to try out choir, or was it to explore an interest? It was a combination, I liked music and I liked the experience. They (parents) were looking for extracurricular things for my siblings and I to do. And this was one I showed interest in. So they thought we will see how this goes and I ended up singing in it until I couldn’t be in it anymore.
Who inspired you or motivated you to pursue this route? I had very supportive parents which is extremely helpful. My job right now is a full-time professor and I deal with students, regularly, whose parents aren’t happy that they are music majors. Someone says they are a music major and they ask “how are you going to make a living?” It isn’t the most invalid question. I had supportive parents which was helpful for me all the way through. This allowed me to do things. I was always surrounded by inspirational and talented people in high school and college and around the world. So there are a lot of people that I can contribute this to.
You are a current professor how do you balance both being a professor, Voctave and working at Walt Disney World? The full-time job at Rollins College is
time consuming and Voctave is a full time job too. Disney is part-time and I do it when I have free time on the weekends and when they need me. But between Rollins and Voctave whats nice is that Voctave has artists residence at the college. My colleagues are very supportive of Voctave and everything we do. And it’s nice because I have another job as the choral editor for a music publishing company. Most all of the things I deal with and recordings are a mixture of Voctave people and students. So it is tying everything together and they benefit each other. All of my jobs are stacked very nicely. Voctave would not exist if it wasn’t for my job at the college. I am thankful for that relationship.
Best advice to our parents or kids who are interested in pursuing music? The worst things you can say I want to be a music major and I want to perform. That is vague and difficult and there isn’t actual steps towards success in that. So my job as a professor, I figured out a way to be in the music industry and do something that nobody else can do. I tell my students you have four years to figure out where in the music industry you can fit in and offer something that nobody else can. So with singing, how can we find a way to make a living with singing. I am lucky to have a number of my students are stepping out of college into the workforce and doing exactly what they came into college to do. And getting to work with them at Voice of Liberty is incredibly nice to have a piece of that is a huge honor for me.
How did you form Voctave? It was actually an accident, it wasn’t planned to be a group. So if you hear the Disney Medley that exists online. That’s not Voctave, we were doing an album for something else. And that video blew up. And then I started getting contacted to do different projects based on that so I would call people based on who was available and who was good for the project. And then I thought this might have legs, this might be fun to do this for a little bit. Then I got connected with Kirstin from Pentatonix. And we did the love medley with she and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend at the time talked me about no more is this a random grouping of people. You need to have a set group of people, a name, website, other videos and he was right. As soon as that video came out it exploited and he said you need more videos and a website so people can go look you up. Because if you don’t have a website you don’t exist, you won’t exist. It went from there, so we did a video, this video and there was a point we said we need the right group of people here. So there was definitely some thought that went into that.
Did you even have time to think, was it something that just happened so quickly? That’s what people kept saying. They kept asking me what was the goal. I didn’t know what the plan was tomorrow. Whatever is next, is next. I was really glad that things were happening and we are still trying to ride that train. We signed up with the agency, and they took care of everything and the tours. We have different recording projects in the works. It was a lovely accident.
Is this your first time performing at the Soraya? Yes, it’s our first time in California for the west coast tour! We have a brand new song in this concert that doesn’t exist anywhere. It is from one of my favorite Christmas movies and I wrote it just for this tour (so you have to go to their concert to hear this new song!)
So you guys are having a good time while you are doing this? Yes, this is the best part of being in Voctave, are the performances. We are excited to go and sing on stage this is where it all happens. It is nice. You will see this in the concert, very real personalities.
This tour is perfect for the holidays, to build that kindness and what families and people need during this time. I think people first come to the show for two things a) do we really sound like that live? B) Can Kate sing that high in real life? The answer to both of them is yes. And the second half of the concert is geared towards what the season is for, talking about togetherness. This is the time of the year where people want to spend time with family and friends. It is a fun night for anybody who wants to come to the concert. You will get great music, high notes, low notes and if you don’t leave in the Christmas spirit it is your fault. And if you have listened to them already, you know he’s telling the truth! Their music has definitely brought the Christmas spirit to our home so I can only imagine how their performances will be.
Any upcoming shows or projects you are working on and willing to share with me?
We have another tour in January and end of February we are in the south.
Through this interview, Jamey reassured my that what we do to support our children at a young age will help them in their future success. Parents continue to do what you are doing by exploring your child’s interest and helping them develop their love for a hobby or skill. And let us continue to redefine societal norms. Let’s support our boys to continue to explore the performing arts by engaging and introducing them to the arts whether it is a capella, musical theatre, ballet, jazz, hip hop, acting and so on. Play different musical genres, take them to performances, let them read this interview and engage with the text. How can we help our children find a “lovely accident” that will one day make millions of people stop to watch and listen to their beautiful talent?
Voctave will be performing for the next couple of weeks. Check out their tour schedule and gift an Voctave experience to your family and friends!