Amy Owens has seen a lot.
The Brookfield Central High School alum currently resides in Upper Manhattan in New York City, but her career has already taken both Owens and her growingly-famous voice to Carnegie Hall, to the other side of the world, and plenty of places in between.
Finding her voice
Despite what one might believe, not every prodigy started chasing their particular trade at a young age.
For Owens, her path brought her to Brookfield by way of Colorado in junior high. She already had established a strong relationship with music in general, but it would take many more years before she would even think of singing as what might become her life’s work.
“I never had the sense that being a performer was actually a real career for me. It was never in my line of thought at all,” Owens said. “Of course, I always loved music and my mom told me from a young age that singing was my real talent.”
While also involved in choir and drama, Amy spent a lot of time in other extracurriculars, including Key Club and National Honor Society.
“I was very academic and I’m grateful for the Elmbrook School District because they’re some of the top schools and also very well-rounded,” Owens said. “I felt like an academic, so to me, being a musician wasn’t being an academic. I didn’t think of that as something that would be for me.”
Following her high school graduation in 2006, Owens’ path took her back out west to Brigham Young University where she truly began to find and cultivate her passion. The daughter of Ken and Mary Elbert — who still live in Brookfield — was awarded a music scholarship at BYU.
“I went on a music scholarship because my voice teacher told me I should," Owens said. "For me, if something is hard, I always wanted to just go all the way and do it all the way. Opera is heavy lifting.”
Amy graduated from BYU in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts of Music in Vocal Performance and two years later finished her Master’s Degree in Music – Vocal Performance at Rice University.
“In college it just became more apparent as I was majoring in music that it was something special,” Owens said.
If there’s one difficulty Owens finds in her day-to-day life as an opera singer, it’s that she really does have to live that life day to day.
She currently calls herself a freelance soloist in the opera world. Sometimes her schedule will be packed with performances and rehearsals and other times she has to start thinking of side projects.
“Opera is usually a month of rehearsals and then a couple of performances and then they’re done,” Owens said. “It’s not like you’re on a tour or you’re with a show for a certain run. It’s a constant auditioning process for the next gig.”
For Owens, most of her performance career has been concert work. She has performed at Carnegie, the Lincoln Center and in Hong Kong.
Following her graduation from Rice University, Owens took part in a number of residencies including Utah Festival Opera and Santa Fe Opera. She credits multiple summers spent at Wolf Trap Opera as having been one of the main turning points in her career.
“That and Rice. Wolf Trap, in terms of professional connections, became sort of the foundational thing on my resume,” Owens said. “They took a chance on me. It made everyone else look at me.”
But while many have begun to look at Owens and she's worked with a number of composers in recent years, the life of a freelancer still includes ebbs and flows.
“Even just as of a few months ago, it felt like there was no work coming up. I had one thing booked for next season in 2018,” Owens said. “And then in just a matter of, I think a week, someone dropped out of a production and then suddenly I had three more jobs lined up. I don’t mind being flexible and having a little bit of unpredictability. It keeps me on my toes.”
Because of the rapid influx of work thrown her way for the rest of 2017, Owens has had to put a side project of her own on hold.
“Something I’ve been working on this year is I started working with a producer and co-writing original music and we’re going to produce an album,” Owens said. “We’re still working on it, but originally we wanted to have our whole album done by the fall. It will probably now be in the spring. That’s the thing about this career, you make plans and then you adjust as things change.”
Turning the page
As Owens continues her journey through life on a path that her childhood counterpart might have never predicted, she has one particular goal. Whether it be through composing music and producing an album or her own live performances, she wants to unite people using music.
“Classical music touches the human spirit. Live performances are the most important because when you’re in the live performance of a classical concert, nothing is coming through a microphone or an amplifier or a speaker,” Owens said. “It’s just whatever’s inside of me coming out and going right into your ear. Not only are you experiencing something raw and real and unfiltered, but you’re doing it with everyone else.”
Owens also acknowledges that today’s youth are less interested in opera — or classical music in general — than other genres, but she hopes that more young people might at least give it a chance.
“I know that there’s a certain elitism that has been associated with opera and I’m not going to say that opera is better than pop. Everyone has their different preferences and their different styles for all music. Like, I’m not going to listen to opera for a dance party,” Owens said. “I do wish more people would hear it though. Classical music is math, it’s poetry and it’s language. I had to learn four different languages to do this. It touches the human spirit.”
To learn more about Amy or to follow her career go to www.amyowenssoprano.com.