By Stephanie Ciccarelli
February 20, 2009
If you watched the 51st Annual Grammy awards this year, you heard the voice of Heather Halley, a voice that has received numerous compliments from people inside and outside of the voice over industry.
Heather Halley was kind to answer a number of my questions and connect with me on Facebook. Am I ever excited to share her story with you!
Join me now in this interview with the voice behind the Grammys, Heather Halley.
VOX: Hi Heather, thank you for joining us today! You just announced at the Grammys... how was that?
HEATHER HALLEY: Being chosen to announce the 51st Grammy Awards was a true honor. I learned so much, and gained a tremendous amount of respect for those behind the scenes.
VOX: From what I heard, the Grammys took a swing in the direction of Social Media, having you announce that fans could keep in the loop through Facebook and Twitter. As an announcer, have you ever encountered that kind of interactivity with your audience before, or do you feel that this was a first where announcing at live award shows is concerned?
HH: No, I have never encountered that kind of interactivity with an audience before using Facebook and Twitter. I could be wrong... but I do believe it was a first with The Grammys. I thought it was wonderful that viewers and fans could follow the Grammys through Facebook and Twitter. It made the show more accessible, and exciting.
VOX: How did the online community contribute to the energy and success of the show? Were you able to engage in the activities taking place to get an indication of how the announcements were being received?
HH: Absolutely. I definitely think that the online community generated a tremendous amount of energy, and success to the show. You bet! No, unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to find out how the announcements were being received. Although, after the show was over, so many people were kind enough to take the time and write to me on my Facebook page or contacted me through my website. It was so awesome! I had folks from all over America, including Northern Ireland and Argentina. How cool is that? They didn't have to, but they took the time to congratulate me. The online Voice Over Community Rocks!
I was actually sitting in a very small office with the Grammys Script Coordinator for 15 hours straight, and not in a full length designer gown, mind you. Thank God the bathroom was right down the hallway. My Script Coordinator, (who was lovely), and others on the Grammy Script team, would stick their heads in, and let me know what the reactions were on Facebook and Twitter.
VOX: You have received praise from people both inside and outside of the voice over community, which is quite a feat. I've been reading the feedback on Twitter and people thought your performance was very different from what they had heard before and I even received emails asking me who announced at the show! Some speculate also that you may have been the youngest person to announce at the Grammys. We won't go there, but your youthful sound was duly noted. How do you think your performance has differed from past Grammy announcers and did you (or those in charge) make any conscious decisions to sound different to build more of a Grammy community?
HH: Thank you so much Stephanie. As I mentioned before, so many folks have sincerely been very kind. I was thrilled that there was such positive feedback. That means a great deal to me.
As for being the youngest person to ever announce The Grammys... sure let's say why not! Thank God for Voice Over right? I am really not too sure about that. That is a very good question. That's one of the many cool things about voiceover. Don't ever think you are too old to start. Follow those dreams.
When I was asked to audition through my agency, CESD. My agent never stressed they were looking for a, "younger" sound. Of course I was excited and nervous. I wanted to do a good job. Thank God my agent just said, "Heather, just be yourself, and hit it out of the ball park kid." Needless to say, I was beyond ecstatic when I was chosen. I think you need to speak to people, not at them. I hate that. They have invited us into their homes, not the other way around.
VOX: We've touched on the show itself; now, I'd like to ask you about how you got the job? Well Heather, how did you become the announcer for the Grammys?
HH: My Promo Agent from CESD submitted my demos to the Grammy folks. He also submitted an award program I had announced for Sir Elton John in Washington, DC, which was also an honor to work on. Then I was asked to actually audition on Grammy copy. I auditioned in my closet/home studio.
VOX: Did you find anything particularly exciting about announcing live at the Grammys? Where were you stationed and what kind of gear did you use?
HH: The entire process was exciting. The script constantly changed, up until the end of the show. I attribute it to performing in live theatre. It is very much a collaborate environment. The energy was amazing. The people I worked with were very good to me. Actually being there for the rehearsal was thrilling.
I was stationed in a very tiny room, with my Script Coordinator. I sat and announced on a Neumann microphone. My script book, that weighs around 10 pounds, (God Bless the people that but that book together... so organized), sat on my stand. I had headphones on, so I was able to hear everyone from the director, AD, lighting, all 26 Stage Managers and so on. That in it self was a learning experience. I also had a 12-inch computer monitor right in front of me, so I could see everything that was going on with the show.
VOX: Were you able to meet any of the performers or presenters? If so, who did you meet?
HH: No, unfortunately I did not get to meet any of the performer or presenters. But, after spending 15 hours with these folks, even through a monitor and headset. I felt like I could go up to say, Stevie Wonder and give him a big ol' hug. I did however meet some of the hardest working people in our industry. It's those folks you don't see. Wow! They were the absolute core of the Grammys.
VOX: In your opinion, what was the single most heartwarming moment of the awards show?
HH: That's a tough one. There were so many moments I got goose bumps during the rehearsal, and the live show. But honestly. It was when my Mom, Kay Halley, text messaged me during the rehearsal, "I love you Honey, you are going to Rock, don't worry." Right after I received that text from my Mom, Jennifer Hudson came on stage to rehearse her number. I just started crying. Then my Script Coordinator began to cry. Whether you are a fan of hers or not, with everything that young woman has been through, by God she got out there and sang her heart out. I called my Ma on commercial break to tell her I loved her.
VOX: That's so sweet! On another note, from what I've heard, many announcers tend to get tired and don't make it to the after party. Were you able to attend any socials after the show or did you retire early?
HH: Everyone was absolutely exhausted. They had been working longer hours than me that week. No, I did not make it to any after parties. I hung out with the crew. I did get to attend a lovely reception for the Director of The Grammy's, Walter Miller. He has been directing the Grammys for over 30 years. We toasted to him regarding his retirement.
You work with people, good people, and we instantly become family, then the curtain falls. It really was bittersweet.
VOX: Given the enthusiastic feedback your announcing has received from the public, I think you may have just set a new standard for live announcing at award shows. How does that make you feel?
HH: That is so cool Stephanie! I hope people really enjoyed the whole show. Hearing that folks thought I added something positive to the show has kept me on cloud nine for the past two weeks. I keep saying... Oscars? Can't we do the Grammys again?
I would love to thank all of my family, friends, and all of the people who did take the time to give me feedback. It has blessed me more than you will ever know. We need to keep on supporting one another in the Voice Over Community. It's people like you Stephanie, and Voices.com that allows us to stay strong. Thank you for taking the time to interview me. You Rock!
Be sure to leave a comment and let her know!
StephanieRelated Topics: Announcer, awards, Grammy, Grammy's, Grammys, Heather Halley, industry, Interview, Voice Talent, Voices.com