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Backstage: Damien Genardi on finding your resonance

Opera singer Damien Genardi recently opened The Resonant You Studio on North Main Street in Ashland.

Genardi, who sang with the Portland Opera for a decade and taught voice for 15 years, is also a photographer and cinematographer. His philosophy is, “The world is on fire. Art is the answer.”

We met at his vocal and spiritual healing studio, complete with digital healing pools, magnetic treatment mats and Tibetan singing bowls.

DG: I love to sing everything, jazz and everything.

EH: How were you first introduced to music?

DG: When I was 1 year old, my mom and dad gave me a record player and all my own music. I listened all day long to jazz, Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughn, a lot of Motown, and kids’ stuff. I loved music.

EH: What do you do for a warm-up?

DG: I start by relaxing and meditating. I start with a hum from the middle of myself. I’ll start unambitiously, and anything goes. I don’t judge myself. I look for the center of it until I feel parts of myself vibrating. I massage the breath down into myself. It starts to get deeper. It starts to open into something. That’s how I do it. I have tools for leading people down a path to do this. I put it into language everyone can understand.

EH: Do you have a vocal method or theory that you subscribe to?

DG: I teach basic voice techniques. I teach the journey of assembling yourself, of opening, of receiving the art, of being a pure channel of what you feel. If an emotion wants to come through you, it can instantly be heard. That’s something that I hear is missing in most voices right now. Everybody is imitating a sound that they’ve heard. I hear so many girls singing like Beyoncé, a lineage of impressions. It is one impression after another, derivatives of a sound that, in my opinion, is not the most honest sound that they can make.

I want to encourage people to find their voice. I would much rather hear something that is emotional, that makes me want to cry or rips my soul out, even if it’s not perfect. I would much rather hear somebody who can do that to me than something that sounds airbrushed and photoshopped, perfectly packaged and right. I’ve lost interest in hearing all that. I want to hear what your voice sounds like. Who are you? Don’t you want to be felt? The place where you can feel it, where it’s OK to be heard, is in your voice, and especially in your singing voice.

EH: Where does the spiritual healing come in?

DG: When you are brave enough to get close to your tears and sing, it makes everybody feel it. It’s a gift. It’s like everyone has been waiting their entire life to hear it. It is a gift to be honest in your emotions, and to let it be heard in your voice.

When I hear people sing and speak, I can instantly hear an entire life story. I try to use that to help, to lead you on your journey. What I want to do is to bring you close to your feelings again, and to teach you how to put that on a pedestal for transformation for us all. That is the way to heal yourself, to sit in balance, and know that this is a sacred offering that you are giving to the world. By that recognition, you will start to hear your voice getting better. Our voices are reflections of our history.

To learn about individual and group voice lessons, plus practices for physical healing, see damiengenardistudio.com.

Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director based in Ashland. To read more interviews with remarkable people, visit her blog: ashlandtheater.net. Reach her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.

Damien Genardi