The New Classic: Julia Belanoff

Check out this preview of issue 12 of EYES IN Magazine. EYES IN can be found in the Apple Newsstand and soon on the Kindle and Nook markets.

Julia Belanoff, a junior in high school, has long been active on Bay Area theater stages. Julia has co-starred in such productions as Coraline, Beauty and the Beast, The Secret Garden, Annie, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The Diary of Anne Frank, and many more. In addition to being an award-winning actress, Julia Belanoff has recently released her debut album, Winner in Your Heart.

In Her Own Words:

Stories are what I do. Sharing stories in song is my passion. But I’ll get back to that. To share my story with you, I should start at the very beginning. It is, after all, a very good place to start. My beginning — in lovely Silicon Valley, land of computer chips and redwood trees.

On April 12th, 1995, I made my first appearance on Earth. Even at a young age, I demonstrated my artistic inclinations. I walked around the house on demi-pointe for hours and loved to sing little ditties under my breath about how I was feeling or my take on what was happening. My parents always listened to me. Instead of a pacifier, my parents gave me love. As my interest in the arts grew, they supported me all the way.

Singing has always entranced me. When I hear Nat King Cole or Edith Piaf or Kristin Chenoweth, I forget everything in the world but the story in the song they sing. I always sang to myself, but at the start of high school, I decided to pursue classical voice training to strengthen my soaring soprano range.

Debra Lambert, head of the vocal arts department at Notre Dame de Namur University, allowed me to begin working with her. I am the singer I am today because of her teaching and friendship. With her, I have fostered a love of a wide range of music, from Mozart to Bernstein.

This year, my friend Michael Lederman introduced me to his longtime friend, composer and record producer, Max DiCarlo. Max and I connected immediately. When I met Max, I sang a high-soprano cadenza and he was inspired by my voice. We began working on a series of songs together. The first of these songs I would like to share with you is “Goodnight, San Francisco.”

I wrote the lyrics for this song during a hot, summer night in New York City. I was homesick, thinking about my City by the Bay. The words flowed right out of me. I knew my story. I had always known that San Francisco was the true City of Love. Love is possible for everyone in San Francisco, and tolerance and beauty characterize the city.

Goodnight, San Francisco” is a love song to the city of San Francisco and the many dreamers who find love there. I dream of a world where tolerance is everywhere, and we can all live and let live. I hope my song brightens your spirits and gives you hope. You can buy the song on iTunes. Let there be love and laughter and joy for all.

A Conversation with Julia Belanoff

As a child, what did you want to become (profession-wise)?

As a little kid, I was very interested in becoming a zoologist. I still love animals very much!

In which town did you grow up?

I grew up in Woodside, California, a suburb of San Francisco.

Do you think your background has influenced your current musical style? If so, what specific element in your background is most pervasive in influencing your current style?

My family has always encouraged my creativity while instilling in me a profound appreciation of history and classical achievement. This mix of innovation and nostalgia has inspired my classical pop music, as I am influenced by great singers of the past, such as Edith Piaf and Maria Callas, while I am creating original, fresh music.

What inspires you in the job of being a musician?

I am inspired musically when I feel that I am emotionally impacting an audience. I love to make a crowd smile, or weep, or shiver. I love to expose my truest feelings to perfect strangers. When I lose myself in song, I feel powerful and free. Music is the greatest escape. Music itself is my inspiration.

In which way do you consider yourself an innovative creator?

Nearly everything about my music is innovative. I am a sixteen-year old Northern California girl, with a background in classical music, singing completely original music composed by Max DiCarlo. I am the lyricist for many of the songs, including my first single, "Goodnight San Francisco."

I also have several tracks in Italian on the album, including "Con Te" and "Domani." Recently, I have tried to find music that was similar to mine, without success. We were trying to break the rules with this album, to release something that has not yet been expressed. Max and I are unique musicians; we sound like no one else.

Do you have any other creative ambitions or dreams to which you aspire?

I would love to perform on Broadway! I love acting, and I have always dreamed of living in New York. Since I was a little girl, I always dreamed of playing Christine in Phantom of the Opera. I would accept any role, of course.

Which basic elements of creativity did your family teach you?

My parents taught me that creativity requires an open mind and risk. They always encouraged me to explore and take chances.

How do you get ideas for creating specific songs?

I create songs based on my personal experiences. I wrote "Goodnight San Francisco" late at night while I was attending Columbia University's summer program for high school students. It was very hot in my dorm room, and I just could not fall asleep. I started thinking about cool, San Francisco summers, and the song quickly flowed out of me. "Moment" is about my first kiss.

Do you have a favorite singer yourself?

My favorite singer is Kristin Chenoweth.

Are you ever afraid you will run out of inspiration and creativity in your job?

I am never afraid of that.

What is the most difficult thing in your job?

Sometimes, working out the logistics can be challenging. Luckily, I have a group of people who help me make the difficult decisions. Still, I have always been a decisive person, and I think it serves me well on this musical pathway.

What is the most fun part of your job?

Singing is the most fun part! If I am singing, I am having fun, no matter what is going on around me.

Do you expect your way of singing/performing to change in the future?

My voice will mature over time, so my music will have a slightly different vibe. I am still in the process of growing up, and I do not want to limit myself. I love my music right now, but my taste may change, and I may branch into other genres. Or, maybe I will sing this music for my whole life. Who knows? But I will always be true to how I feel and embrace my hunches.

Do you embrace the changes in the music industry regarding social media and technology influences?

Honestly, I have not really been part of the music industry long enough to appreciate this change. All I know is I like the way things are now! Feel free to follow me on twitter and join my fan page on Facebook.

What do you consider to be your greatest masterpiece?

My greatest masterpiece so far is "Winner in Your Heart," my debut album, and the music video for “Goodnight San Francisco." I am proud of what I have achieved, and I hope the songs send people into a dream. Creating this album has been a dream come true for me.

Do you like art? Do you have any preferences for an artist? And/or for creators of artistic work? (Creators can also be chefs, designers, photographers, fashion designers or inventors.)

I like art! I have a great friend who is an event designer, Denise Delaney.

If so, why is that? What special quality do you like in their work or personalities?

Denise is spunky, sweet and a bit quirky. She is so creative and fun, always putting her own edge on her parties. Her annual Halloween “Eye Ball” has always been a local fixture, and when she went on Martha Stewart and shared her decorating expertise, many people outside of our community were introduced to her work. She is wildly original and a joy to be around.

Could we feature your favorite musician, author, artist, designer, architect, filmmaker, etc. in our magazine and/or online?

I think so.

In which way do you think music, art, and design are different and/or similar?

Music, art, and design all capture elements of the human experience in an original way, allowing people to see their surroundings with new eyes. I believe that such reflection allows us to gain greater insight into our society and culture. These three types of creation vary in their process, but all ultimately have the same goal: promoting free thought.

Do you aspire to collaborate in your creations with an artist from another artistic discipline?

When I was in sixth grade, I wrote several poems based on Monet paintings. I find that I can gather so much inspiration by uncovering the story in a gorgeous work of art. I would love to collaborate with a young and promising painter and write lyrics based on the stories in their art. Maybe we could even add another layer to the project by having my collaborator paint me writing lyrics based on his/her painting.

Do you have a favorite company or exciting other creator with whom you would like to work?

Iwould love to work with Stephen Sondheim. His musicals are some of my favorites, and I love the passion and emotion of his creations. As an actor and singer, working on a musical with Sondheim would exhilarate me.

Do you follow any philosophical or psychological approach in creating your music?

I always make the process of creating my music fun and relaxed.

What is your favorite building in the world? (If more than one, please list more and tell us why it’s your favorite.)

My favorite building in the world is the Chrysler Building. For me, it represents the glorious, dazzling fabulousness of New York City. I could smile at it all day.

What is your favorite hotel? (If more than one, please list more and tell us why it’s your favorite.)

My favorite hotel is the Berkeley in London. The Berkeley is walking distance from the West End, with a beautiful, historic interior and outstandingly cordial staff. Whenever my dad and I stay there, we always order their fashion-oriented tea service; I love sweets, especially delicious ones inspired by current runway styles! The hotel keeps up with the trends even though it’s been around for more than a hundred years. Classic and modern at the same time… just like my music!

What would be your ideal home? (If more than one, please list more and tell us why it’s your dream home.)

I would love to live either in a small, lovely houseboat in Sausalito or a cozy New York City apartment in the Village. I love the idea of living on water in such a pretty spot; Sausalito is surrounded by nature but still adjacent to a major city.

Alternatively, the Village is such an artsy, fun neighborhood with so much activity and excitement; I can see myself having an amazing time there. In either case, I want small, well-kept living quarters. I want my home to be cute and welcoming, not oversized and looming. Bigger is not always better.

Do you have any dreams for the future?

I want to pursue a career in performing, experimenting with theatre, film, television and concert projects. My biggest dream is to perform on Broadway. Beyond that, I would love to sing in concerts all around the world and perform in thought-provoking films.

Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?

It has been a pleasure being interviewed! Thank you very much for this opportunity.

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