By Lin Parkin
May 31, 2013
Do you ever wonder how voice actors get into the industry?
We do. We always enjoy meeting our customers and learning about your incredible journeys into the voice-over arena. We had the great pleasure of doing so with many of you at VoiceWorld Toronto 2013.
One such voice talent was Scotty Newlands, a National Anthemist for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Army Reservist.
Scotty took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about voice-overs, his career as a performer, being an officer in the Army Reserves and what it was like seeing the Leafs (finally!) make it to the playoffs.
He also explains how his experience appearing on Canadian Idol helped propel his career forward.
Join us today in this special VOX Daily interview!
How did you get involved singing National anthems at hockey games?
I first performed the national anthem publicly for the Toronto Blue Jays back in June 2006. They were having a Canadian Forces Appreciation game and I was asked to sing the anthems for the opening ceremony. Due to the positive response from that event, I was asked by the Toronto Argonauts to do the same for their team's CF Appreciation.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were planning their Remembrance Day/Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony for that coming November and due to the success from the past two events, I was asked to sing for their ceremony as well. This marked the first time ever performing for the team or any other NHL franchise. It also marked the first nationally broadcasted hockey game I would be seen at. The response was very positive and that started the ball rolling in my favour.
One of the most memorable experiences I have been privileged to participate in, was being asked to sing the Canadian national anthem at the 2009 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. That was a huge honour and the response from the outdoor crowd was incredible!
What's it like to perform an anthem that's not your own and why do you sing it the way you do?
Whenever I sing a national anthem, I try to perform it as though it were my own. My feeling on this, is that it is the anthem of an visiting country and regardless of the fact that it's not MY nation's anthem, it does represent an entire population of citizens and it deserves just as much respect and adulation as my own does.
Therefore, it is completely disrespectful not to sing it with as much emotion and sincerity as I would want for my own anthem. Too many singers only pay lip service to the opposing team's anthem with a half-hearted performance and then demonstrate their own selfish pride when it comes time to sing their own. Although they may feel that this is justified as being "patriotic" it is rude and does a complete disservice to those players and spectators from the visiting nation. It demonstrates outright prejudice on the part of the singer and it portrays them as uncaring.
I am honoured when I have Americans contact me and tell me that I have sung their anthem better and with more raw emotion than most of their own performers. As a proud Canadian, I love my country, but I have respect for other nations as well. If you don't feel like giving the same effort and emotional connection to another nation's anthem - leave it for someone else to sing, rather than blatantly disrespecting those citizens who proudly wave their flag in national solidarity.
How old were you when you got your big break?
That's hard to say exactly because I'm always striving to better myself in my performance career. Outside of choir ensembles in junior and high schools, if I had to give a rough time-determinate answer, I'd have to say that it was probably my appearance on the first season of Canadian Idol back in 2003 that launched things forward.
I was 24 years old, a recent undergrad from York University and I had just left a military course prematurely - to join the line of thousands of young hopefuls in order to showcase my talents for a chance to be part of the mega-franchise which was IDOL. Due to success of American Idol and their previous two seasons, Canadian Idol was destined to be a star maker for many budding singers.
Although my time on the show was short lived, it was the exposure I received as a result of my unique audition, friendly and entertaining candour and the subsequent "Best of the Worst" special that I was asked to be a part of, which really moved me forward as a public performer. I had a great time being part of the whole process and I met some incredible people in the industry. It was due to the fact that someone recognised me from Canadian Idol that I was first asked to perform for the military.
Therefore, I have the producers and staff to thank for allowing me the opportunity to take part in the whole Idol experience and helping to launch me into future endeavours that otherwise would have gone undiscovered, if it hadn't been for the exposure I received from the show. Like many performers, my life has been an overnight success - 20 years in the making!
Are you on the road a lot?
Due to my military duties, I have not yet gone "on the road" to perform as an artist. I typically stay within the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding locations and book performance opportunities within the city. In addition to my on-screen appearances and anthem performances, I do lend my talents to a number of corporate events, private functions and charities which sometimes take me outside of the city and province.
As an actor, I have to be available for regular auditions and casting projects, so I try to keep my personal schedule as flexible as possible. Being a reservist, I am able to work in my civilian career while still serving in uniform. If an opportunity arises which is enticing and viable for me to embark upon - I love nothing more than being able to explore it further!
If that means taking some time off from my military duties and hitting the open road, I know that I have the full support of my Commander and supervising staff to do whatever is best! Until that time, I'm happy to stay in the great city of Toronto, and perform whatever is asked of me!
How did it feel to witness the Leafs finally getting to the playoffs after a nine year stretch?
As a Toronto boy, it was an absolute thrill to be asked to sing the national anthems for our team's first playoff game in 9 seasons! Out of all of the anthem singers who have taken the ice at the Air Canada Centre in past years - being asked to sing and represent both Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces was truly an honour! Watching our boys win on home ice was nothing short of exhilarating and they deserve all the praise and respect for what they have achieved as a team! Leafs Nation is strong and we all bleed blue!!
Can you describe how you are involved in the Army? How does it relate to your singing career?
I currently work as a reserve Public Affairs representative at Army Headquarters in Toronto. My specialization is in graphic design and media production for both internal as well as external communications.
When I perform in uniform, I am of course, representing the Canadian Armed Forces and the brave men and women who operate both domestically and overseas protecting our nation and assisting those who are in need. I am frequently asked to speak about my experience in uniform and I am honoured to be able to shine a positive light on all of our serving personnel and I will continue to do so for as long as I am asked.
Due to the fact that I have been recognised from appearing at a number of different games and events, I am often approached by individuals looking to hire me for their events, which certainly benefits me in my civilian career.
You are an accomplished singer, emcee and actor. What appeals to you about doing voice-over work?
Because I am most recognised as a vocal performer, it only seems natural that I would exploit my own voice talents as much as possible. What most people may not know about me is that I have 4-octave vocal range which is quite unique amongst male performers. This allows me to sing in registers usually performed by women - in addition to my natural tenor range. I have a lot of fun doing character work and being able to delve into a new vocal persona which is completely outside of my regular speaking register. I find it exciting to bring life to a character or explore different vocal nuances in order to push my own limits as a performer.
What types of voice-over jobs are you interested in?
Like most VO performers, I would love to voice a cartoon character or land a major commercial gig, but there is so much more to VO than that! Due to my film & theatre background and work as an emcee, I am also very interested in audiobooks, IVR, PSAs, instructional videos, radio spots and many other facets of the industry. If my voice suits a specific project - I am more than happy to explore new avenues in my VO career!
What else do you want the voice-over community to know about you?
I love to perform and I take great pride in being able to showcase my talents in whatever capacity is asked of me. Whether I'm onstage, on set, in studio, standing at centre field or taking centre ice, I always do my best and put my heart into each and every performance! As a recording artist, I have had the privilege of working with some incredible musicians and industry professionals over the years and I have been able to put out some great music that I am really proud of!
As an actor, I have had the honour of sharing the stage with some incredibly talented individuals, who have taught me a great deal about my craft! As a proud member of the Canadian Armed Forces, I am honoured and humbled by the brave men and women who serve in uniform. They are the true heroes - along with all Emergency Service personnel who keep us safe every day and allow us to live the dreams we all aspire to.
My voice is my instrument and I have been truly blessed to have been given a gift which brings happiness to others. I am truly thankful for all of the opportunities which have been bestowed upon me. As long as I have breath in my body - I will perform until the end.
Thank You for Sharing Your Story with us, Scotty!
If you have any questions or comments for Scotty Newlands, please feel to leave a message in the comments below.
All the best,