My life literally transformed when I met Joan Wall—we began a long journey together, co-authoring seven books and producing six films.
Joan is one of those rare and magical performers, a singer who can light up the stage with liquid brilliance. The first time I heard her perform, I had never before been taken so deeply into an emotional experience, one so rich with nuance and color and depth that today, nearly thirty years later, I can step back into it as if it just happened, still feeling the emotions flowing through my body.
But Joan is also a rare human being, able to embrace new ideas instantly, hurling herself into them to explore their merit. At the time I met her, I had just completed my bachelor’s degree in piano performance. I had already left traditional musical pedagogy and had begun exploring unusual performance techniques, using myself as a guinea pig as described here. I felt alone in this endeavor, as no one was writing about them in the literature, nor was I seeing it in colleges and universities. Then one of my friends mentioned an unusual master class hosted by Joan Wall in nearby Denton, Texas at Texas Woman’s University. I became intrigued, asking about each detail. Joan was also exploring wildly different methods and techniques about how to help singers light up an audience. I called her immediately to meet.
A natural leader, she embraced my out-of-the-box ideas and energetically supported me in developing them, a true gift to me as a human being. She arranged for me to study voice with her, while also setting me up to teach courses in performance and later in voice at the university. She helped me set up master classes, read my manuscripts, discussed in many long conversations the details and nuances of beauty, grace, performance, artistry, people. Over the years, we were amazingly productive. In the process, she and her husband, Ernie, became my dear friends.
Of all the many gifts Joan contributed to my life, I was luckiest to be around her ability to commit so intensely to what she loved. Such an ability belies an inner freedom, where, self possessed, she could choose profoundly and take aim with the whole of herself. On stage, she completely immersed herself into the music, taking the audience deep into spine-chilling emotions with her beautiful voice because she was so intensely involved. While she had a brilliant career singing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and around the world, she found her true passion in teaching, where she also completely immersed herself into the welfare of her students, lighting up their imaginations daily, always bringing the best of herself to her work.