Inspired to Sing: Kennedy Caughell

Singer and actress Kennedy Caughell on stage
A prominent actress-singer shares key performance and vocal technique turning points.

Kennedy Caughell is a Broadway performer and voice over Artist. We just love her work! She’s had many roles on Broadway and been on national and international tours playing leads in American Idiot, Elphaba, Wicked, CAROLE and more.

Kennedy is versatile across genres, has trained extensively and reflected deeply on all things vocal – so we’re keen to let you know her about her vocal journey.

A favorite quote that inspires you

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.” ~Helen Keller

An object that inspires you in your musical work

There’s a beautiful painting (the first one I’ve ever bought and owned) of a country road during the fall. The sun is shining, and I just love how the artist captured the light with the paint. It always makes me take a breath, and remember what art is here to do. It’s supposed to make us stop.

Stop what?

Stop worrying, stop being anxious, depressed..etc. and breathe. And by breathing, we are able to take more in. Maybe, it’s also the opposite. Art makes us stop…numbing ourselves, and breaks the dam of our emotions, so that we can feel things we’ve been repressing. 

A key turning point in developing your own unique vocal work?

It was actually a slow burn for me.  I’ve studied voice since I was a teenager—but I definitely had days where I could not see my personal progress, and I would get frustrated. But I think 2 big turning points were when I first learned how to place my head voice when I was 14. Until then, I had only done little girl belting roles like Annie haha!

The second moment is when I first allowed myself to BREATHE. Everything is connected to breath. And when I allowed myself to relax and breathe, while staying in alignment, I accessed my high belt for the first time in a practice room in college. Imagine my shock and excitement!

An important vocal health lesson?

HYDRATE. Most vocal problems and annoyances tend to be from dehydration. Especially when you’re sick, flush it all out! I love my coffee, but I have to limit it, and drink more water to balance it. At LEAST, you should be drinking half your weight in ounces, so a 200lb person should drink 100 oz. Aim for more. Most of the time if my voice is tired, I need to drink more water and rest.

An important lesson on vocal technique?

I Always warm up. ALWAYS. It’s essential to remind your body how easy it feels to sing when you are in alignment. That’s step one, and from there, you can build.

What was your first performance?

I think my first performance was actually in the Christmas pageant in Church! They had me play “silent night” on the piano.

What did you learn from that performance?

I learned that even as a kid I knew what I wanted. I remember being upset, because I wanted to be the angel, but instead, I was stuck behind piano! HAHA. I still played though—the show must go on.

What performance would you single out as being a “turning point” & why?

I think my performance of Pasek & Paul’s “Ready to Be loved” at Elon. It was the first time I performed a song like that, and it was filmed. When it went viral in the musical theatre world—I was shocked! It was the first time I considered my career trajectory as more than just the classics.

Kennedy playing the role of Annie at the San Jose Repertory Theatre

A vocal artist who inspires you?

I grew up listening to Barbra Streisand. She’s amazing! And Beyoncé—I mean, she’s incredible. I have a “B”-Theme I guess haha! Also: Ella Fitzgerald! …I could listen to her scat all day. With Ella, not only does she have a rich warm tone and vocal dexterity, but she uses every facet of her voice to become the different jazz instruments in the song—I’ve never heard anyone do it like her. 

What is it about their singing that inspires you?

Barbra’s voice is so powerful and unique. Beyoncé has AMAZING vocal dexterity. Both of them know how to allow their emotions to come through when they sing—magic.

What’s your relationship with social media?

It’s definitely a love/hate relationship haha! I think it’s vitally important that you don’t allow social media to steal your joy, or dictate how you live your life. Remember, social media is curated to make peoples’ lives look a lot more perfect than they actually are. People rarely post about their failures. All social media (instagram/twitter/tiktok/ etc) was originally created, and arguably still is around to SELL YOU SOMETHING. Products, lifestyles, politics–it is a never ending stream of data and others’ opinions that could easily end up in overwhelm, brain fog, and a loss of your true self. You have a life to live outside the internet, and a gift that needs cultivating—remember that.

Nice reminder! What do you like doing with social media? 

It’s a great way to check in with people you don’t get to see very often, and stay in touch. It’s a great place to interact with fans, and it’s also a wonderful tool to get your art and your “Still small voice” with something to say–out there! I love seeing my friends have an amazing creative outlet, or make a beautifully worded post, or create a movement that creates lasting change in the world.  I think what works for me is putting a daily time limit on the time spent on social media, and when I do post, I make sure it is intentional & brings me joy. Plus, hilarious puppy videos are my favorite way to take a break and smile :)

Kennedy playing the role of “Carole King” on tour

What are you currently working on in terms of your music-career?

This has been a crazy, but beautiful time now that I have begun writing my own music. It’s deep, vulnerable work, but I’m excited to record it and put it out in the world! 

What are some of your career dreams/goals?

I would love to help create a character from scratch! It’s what I’m doing right now with SuperYou. I also would love to help create a show from the other side of the table. I have a lot of ideas, it’s just a matter of taking the time, and getting the right team together.  I would also love to do a new biopic, and be a marvel superhero!

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