Spears graduated from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s in music, studying vocal performance. During her time in school, the opera singer performed in New York City, Austria and Hungary and made her professional debut at the Asheville Lyric Opera in 2013. After a year of graduate school at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Spears returned to the Tri-Cities.
Nowadays, Spears does more than singing. When she’s not performing locally, she’s acting in community theater or working on a commissioned painting, a recent passion of hers.
Today, Spears talks about her inspirations, her vocal performance and arts beyond the stage.
Q: How did you get started singing?
A: I began focusing on my singing voice as a junior in high school when I joined the high school choir. The music we sang, the harmonies that I was introduced to, and the way that style of singing made me feel are all reasons I knew I was going to sing for the rest of my life.
Q: What is your favorite style to sing?
A: Aside from opera and musical theater, my favorite style to sing is soul. I grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston, and I pull a lot of stylistic influence from them.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: I stay inspired by my inner circle of family, my significant other and my closest friends. 2018 was a rough year for me with a lot of epiphanies and discoveries about my health and my life. After navigating through those rough waters with those people beside me, I feel like I am now flourishing.
Q: Where is your favorite place to work?
A: My favorite place to work and create is in the solitude of my home. It’s where I’m the most creative, and where I get the most work done.
Q: You’ve been getting into painting lately! How has that been?
A: As corny as this sounds, I made a New Year’s Resolution to be more creative, whatever that may mean. In early January, I went to a craft store, wandered aimlessly through the paint aisles, purchased $40 of supplies, and put brush to canvas. And I haven’t stopped. It is by far my favorite thing to do. It’s all I think about.
Q: What gets you out of bed every morning?
A: It’s easy to roll out of bed and go through the motions, and I often catch myself falling into that rut. But the opportunities to create something new, make new memories, or learn something new about myself are what get me out of bed in the morning.
Q: Why is art such a big part of your life?
A: Art is the only way I can be my purest self. Nothing else in the world is as fulfilling for me. I pour everything I have into my art, whatever that may be. It’s the only universal form of expression, and it keeps me connected with myself.
Q: What’s next for you? Exciting projects coming up?
A: This June, I have a show at Bloom Cafe in Bristol. I’ll be singing some of my favorite songs, and I will have original paintings and prints for sale at the show.