|Flourish Online Magazine||Fall 2011|
Photo by Sarah Singleton
When Chani Maisonet first auditioned for the Kennesaw State University vocal performance program, she had never sung opera. Two years later, she has grown into a star of the opera-based program, winning awards and sharing her talents with several groups on campus.
As Maisonet’s vocal coach, KSU Assistant Professor Adam Kirkpatrick has guided her through the process of adapting to the operatic style. He has seen tremendous growth in her, developing from an R&B performer to a singer capable of delivering graceful and powerful performances. “Chani can belt out gospel and R&B tunes like an American idol in the morning,” Kirkpatrick explains, “and then turn around and sing a glorious Italian soprano aria in the evening like a prima donna. She understands her instrument well enough that she is able to change styles and tone productions at will to suit the part situation.”
Kirkpatrick coached Maisonet for her performances in the KSU Opera Theatre productions of “The Medium” and “Hansel and Gretel.” Maisonet says these productions turned opera into her new love and passion. “To me, classical music is harder vocally, and I love the challenge it brings,” she says.
In February 2011, Maisonet won her division in the National Association of Teachers of Singing student auditions for the second year in a row. She credits Kirkpatrick and other faculty members for motivating her to do her best. “I’m convinced we have the best teachers. Kirkpatrick is very patient and supportive.”
While Maisonet loves performing opera, she likes to mix up her styles of music. She is a member of the KSU Gospel Choir and the KSU Chamber Choir. She has also performed in off-campus productions of “CATS,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Chicago” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” Additionally Maisonet opened for Patti LaBelle and John Legend at a benefit concert at Phillips Arena in 2008 and was invited to perform with the Atlanta Opera Guild.
On top of all of these accomplishments, Maisonet says her favorite experience since coming to KSU was performing at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre earlier this year. Maisonet and five other KSU music majors were invited to sing “Quando M’en Vo’” under the direction of Russell Young, KSU associate professor, and Judith Cole, KSU instructor. The performance solidified Maisonet’s love of singing. “It is the highlight of my college musical career so far,” she explains, “and it was in that moment I knew that I will be doing this for the rest of my life.”
Maisonet wants to continue to push herself in upcoming semesters and perform in more school productions. She also wants to continue singing in graduate school, and eventually open her own performing arts school for children.