Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

51st Grammy Awards Announcer Heather Halley Chats with Voices.com

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

February 20, 2009

Comments (14)

Heather HalleyWere you taken aback when told to "Keep up with all the Grammy action on Facebook and Twitter!"?

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.

Voices.com Interview with 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!

Did You Enjoy Heather's Announcing?

Be sure to leave a comment and let her know!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

Related Topics: Announcer, awards, Grammy, Grammy's, Grammys, Heather Halley, industry, Interview, Voice Talent, Voices.com


Comments


    Great interview Stephanie! Am amazed that such a young person is announcing the Grammys (not that I know how old she is but, she sure looks young). It just goes to show that anything can happen if you keep at it. I say a big congratulations to Heather. Cheers!

    Posted by:

      I love Heather and I love this interview! I'm so happy you sought her out and asked her those questions!

      Posted by:

        How does a talent (experienced with major credits) who lives outside of NYC or LA get heard by CESD and hopefully signed? In this day of digital recording studios (I voice projects worldwide and have recording studio in my home and am longtime professional audio engineer producer!) what does it matter where one lives? I was told awhile back on telephone inquiry that CESD is accepting only those who live in the two cities above. Suggestions? Would be much appreciated.

        Posted by:

          Ironically, I just became a Facebook friend with Heather recently! After reading your article this evening, I was struck by the warm and honest tone of the article. (Nice job, Stephanie!) Isn't it nice to hear the other side of the story about what goes on behind the scenes on those big award shows? It was remarkable to pull in the social networking as the Grammys were being broadcasted live! (Lovely job, Heather!)

          Posted by:

            Stephanie,
            Thanks for this great interview with Heather! While watching the Grammys, I mentioned to my wife what a GREAT job the VO was doing. And she agreed!

            Note to Heather: GREAT VOICE...but even BETTER "natural" sound. BRAVO, girl!

            All the best in future endeavors,
            JC

            Posted by:
            • jc haze
            • February 21, 2009 9:51 AM

              Being a morning show host for almost 15 years before getting into full time VO my favorite part of this article is the insight into what goes on behind the scenes. Steph, thanks for asking the technical questions! 26 stage managers....I cant even imagine what that must've sounded like in your headphones Heather and how difficult it was to focus on the script. All the best!

              Mutt:))

              Posted by:
              • Mutt
              • February 21, 2009 4:55 PM

                I am a huge Grammy fan but this is actually the first time I have ever done this. Heather Halley's voice was amazing!! She was warm, real, sophisticated and a delight to listen to. What a charming young woman.

                I have enjoyed your interview so much. I would love to know what else this lovely lady is doing as I enjoy her voice so much! Does she do commercials or other award shows?? Tell her I loved hearing her sweet voice.

                Posted by:
                • Vivian Garrison
                • February 21, 2009 9:21 PM

                  Congrats Heather! You are an inspiration to us all!

                  -Jason

                  Posted by:

                    What a wonderful story! The realities of the job sounded gruelling but exciting. I know sometimes one's just excited and happy to be doing one's best and doing a good job. Excellent!

                    Posted by:

                      Heather rocks!!!! She deserved the Grammy gig, and more! She has more than paid her dues, and is as sweet as she is talented! Great job on the interview.

                      In response to Bettye's question, even if one lives in LA the getting of an agent is the hardest part of the journey. And it's even harder these days than it was when I started out over 25 years ago.

                      Keep in mind there are thousands of brilliant LA talents who haven't been able to secure an LA agent. It's a numbers game. And since agents want to know you are available to "be there" at a moments notice, they are quicker to sign local talent than out of towners.

                      There are many reasons it's harder for out of town talent to secure an LA agent. One of which is, as I said, often they need you now. Many sessions are not recorded in home studios. The Grammys is a perfect example. They need you here. And often your agent will call with, "You have a booking in an hour." You just need to be here.

                      Another reason LA agents aren't as quick to take out of town talent is because of online non union casting resources. Though this has opened up the business to more people than ever before, many gigs that were once union are now non union. Agents have a harder time than ever keeping their signed clients employed. The same actors using these online casting resources who live outside of LA, yet desire LA/NYC representation, are part of the reason why they can't secure an LA/NYC agent.

                      I don't see this changing. Pandora's box has been opened.

                      I often ask myself if I would take advantage of online resources if I was starting out today. I don't know. Of course I want to work. But I've always, even when I started out, looked at the bigger picture. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

                      As a business person and artist, I know that there are times you need to risk losing the job if the pay isn't up to what it's been in the past. Once you set a standard, if you are to grow you can't go backwards. If you know your value, they will as well. I stopped doing anime dubbing years ago because the pay was so inferior to American animation. Even though anime is a much harder craft! It didn't make sense investing the time and effort to do anime with such a lousy return. Even though I love the process/art form, it's still a business.

                      Which takes me back to the topic of LA agents for out of town talent. It's still a business. It just isn't good business for LA agents to invest in out of town talent, despite home studios. Of course there are some out of towners who have LA agents. But it isn't the norm. This may change one day. But I think most LA agents feel, if you want to play with the big boys ya need to be amongst em.

                      Back to the original topic-Heather, you da bomb!!!!!! Keep it up!!!!

                      BB


                      Posted by:

                        Hi Bob,

                        Thank you for taking the time to read Heather's interview at Voices.com and for commenting. I agree with much of what you are saying regarding why agents need talent in LA, however, as you said, Pandora's Box has been opened and doing business online is now a reality, even for some bigger agencies in NYC and LA.

                        Something in particular that stood out to me was that in mentioning online casting resources, it was assumed in your comment that only non-union work is posted to talent at sites such as Voices.com.

                        I'd like to clarify right now that we serve clients who hire talent who are members of AFTRA, SAG, EQUITY, ACTRA and other creative guilds around the world, many of which are using SurePay, our payment service. Is the work paying adequately according to their agreements and rate sheets? The answer must be yes because there are union talent who book on Voices.com every day in addition to the non-union talent who are also booking work.

                        If this is the case, why wouldn't a union talent list themselves on an online casting site?

                        Thank you again for your compliments and I trust that what I've shared has been of use to you.

                        Best wishes,

                        Stephanie Ciccarelli
                        Co-founder of Voices.com

                        Posted by:

                          Hey Steph!

                          Totally see your point. I also appreciate all you've done for VO talent and the industry. You are an innovator! And as I said, I don't know if I myself would take advantage of online casting resources if I were starting out today. Sure, I want opportunity. And as much as online casting has opened the door for many, it's prevented these same talents the opportunities to pursue higher goals, which is what I was addressing in Bettye's question regarding talent outside of LA finding obstacles pursuing LA representation. It's very important for any actor interested in longevity to look at the big picture and not just today's gig.

                          Now, this all said, I also believe that change is good. And people need to adapt as the industry adapts. What hasn't changed is this. Buyers want and need brilliant talent. This is why they hold auditions. But performers need to be realistic about what they really want out of their career. For every voice talent outside of LA who is discouraged that they can't get LA representation, there are 100s coming to LA every week who know that to have that tiny possibility of opportunity here, they have to be here. And only a few make it. Just like every area of the arts. But the ones that do have that "it" factor. It's that "nothing will stop me/I will do everything I need to do to pursue my dream" drive.

                          As difficult as it is and always has been for those with "it" to reach their goals, online VO casting has made it more difficult. Sure, there are more opportunities. But low balling and over saturation has made it harder and harder for all involved. From the 6 figure VO actor to the person with the USB mic and garage band. And one way for LA agents to at least try to keep as much of the work here, and their LA talent working, is to resist representing talent outside the LA market. Interestingly, before the online casting took off, more LA agents took chances on not just talent outside of LA, but they took chances on more beginners than they do today. It's just a fact. And as I said, it isn't going away.

                          So, change is here. And the big agents and talent in the big cities must also change. Hey-this is nothing new!!! Same thing happened over 80 years ago with sound movies. This happened with television. Etc. And I'm sure it will happen again and again.

                          All I was doing was addressing Bettye's question as to why it is so hard for talent outside of LA to pursue LA representation. And I stand by my assessment.

                          I'll say it again. Pandora's box has been opened. Nothing we can do about it. BUT-we also can't have it both ways!!!!!!!!!!

                          Posted by:

                            I read this article about you announcing the 2009 Grammys. What an honor, for sure! It shows how your hard work and talent has paid off. You always displayed that spunky kind of good cheer and spirit.
                            God bless you! Your ol' sixth grade teacher, Mr. Layton

                            Posted by:
                            • tom layton
                            • September 6, 2010 11:50 AM

                              I believe I've watched every Grammy Show since the 70s. Heather Halley's voice was the first I ever noticed enough to wonder who it was. She may sound young to some but to this old geezer she sounds 40. I guess that makes her the perfect VO talent.

                              She's got a lot of work in her future.

                              Posted by:
                              • Dusty Dale Brooks
                              • February 13, 2011 10:37 PM

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