We had the good fortune of connecting with Aleta Braxton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aleta, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Do your best to stay positive, even in the face or adversity….and be nice to people.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I was fortunate to have gone to school in Los Angeles where arts were a regular part of the school curriculum. There was choir and orchestra starting in elementary school. I also had parents that encouraged art and education. (Dad was the first black animator in Hollywood). I started on piano at 5, took up cello in elementary school, switched to viola and added some flute. I continued in music — vocal and choral conducting — through college.
I auditioned for and was accepted into the Roger Wagner Chorale as a soprano soloist in the early 80’s. This automatically put me into the Los Angeles Master Chorale. When LA Opera first opened, the LA Master Chorale was hired as the opera chorus. A fellow opera chorister who also worked at WB Feature Music Dept. was asked to put together a small opera chorus singers for the soundtrack of the movie “Burgler.” Yes, she hired me! I got my SAG card (Now SAG-AFTRA). One of the singers on the “Burgler” session was also contracting singers for film soundtracks. She hired me for the soundtrack of “The Witches of Eastwick” with John Williams. Since then, I’ve sung on over 200 film soundtracks, tv soundtracks and recordings.
I guess I got to where I am today through meeting people. I sang for weddings and funerals, etc. I went to auditions, Having the training and practicing pay off. I also took non-music jobs. I have been able to pay it forward, too. Whenever I’m in a position to hire or recommend another singer, I am honored to do so.
Of course one of my greatest joys and honors is to be a vocal teacher at the Los Angeles County High School For The Arts. I love to see my students expand their repertoire and vocal skills. We’re rated the number one arts high in the country.
None of it is really easy. I did/do have to overcome racial biases. That was a big obstacle when, at the time, people still didn’t take seriously a black woman in the world of classical music. Keeping the singing chops up takes work. Overcoming it? Find a mentor/teacher/coach who really knows what you need, even if it’s tough love.
I have been very fortunate to have sung with some of the best conductors and musical colleagues, several genres. There are so many terrifically talented singing colleagues. I guess one of my claims to fame is that I have performed in over 150 productions as a chorister with LA Opera.
What have I learned along the way? The words of the late actress Billie Hayes: “Take your craft seriously, but not yourself.”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If there is a week long trip, I would include visits to the following (no particular order and hopefully open): Olvera Street – Fun shopping and eating.
The Watts Towers
The Huntington Library and Gardens – Art, botanical gardens, English high tea.
California Science Center
The La Brea Tarpits
The Annenberg House in Santa Monica
A Performance of LA Opera – Great restaurants all on the complex
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It takes a village: My mom Bette. Great-Uncle Eugene Braxton. Dad Frank Braxton
Professors/Choir Directors: Dr. Robert Tusler, Dr. Al McNeil, Paul Salamunovich. Voice Teacher David Romano.
My amazing, talented colleagues with LA Opera, LA Master Chorale and the SAG-AFTRA Singer Community!
Youtube: LA Opera Connects: I’m one of the singers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAJ7GoMMHSg&t=3336s