By: Leah Dwyer
Kendra Canavan’s love of singing has brought her coast to coast, from California to New York. She finds herself “incapable of escaping music” and has become one of the hopefuls auditioning for Purchase’s music conservatory.
Canavan began her college career in California attending the University of Redlands, where she was in their music conservatory and majored in vocal performance. While attending school there for three semesters she found that what she was “hoping for a career that was very rare and not necessarily a possibility.” This and her longing to be closer to her home on Long Island, led her to switch to Purchase this year and major in theater and performance. Shortly after she changed again, and has since majored in arts management.
Now in her first year at Purchase, Canavan has found herself stuck with a handful of useless transferred music credits and is now drawn back into music. After receiving notice of her February audition, Canavan hopped right into her new routine. Some of her biggest changes: not having dairy, drinking tea, and waking up early with the help of her roommate, Sydney Dudley.
Dudley described her as “very focused and completely driven while preparing” and laughed saying, “She consumed more tea than I thought was physically possible.”
Canavan even went as far as pushing people away saying “there’s a severity in like a very professional sense that I get when it comes to performing and singing.” She practiced in the rooms in the Music building, saying how she “pestered the workers enough to let (her) in” to use a room, despite not being a conservatory student.
For the audition, Canavan had to prepare three songs. The audition was short; she performed bits from three of her four pieces, a sight-reading, and a rhythmic sight-reading. She ended by stating, “It’s crazy how I spent two months preparing for five minutes.”
Now all Canavan can do is wait, something she used to think was the worst part, “It went from something horrible, like the agony of not knowing, to now the ambiguity of maybe yes maybe no, I don’t know but the work is done.”
Compared to her audition for the University of Redlands, here at Purchase, they were quiet and she didn’t feel that she had done enough. As a 17-year-old, Canavan said this audition would’ve felt like the “end of the world,” but now if she doesn’t make it, it wouldn’t matter.
“I’m not upset but part of me also feels like I’ve wasted so much time on a dream that is now nothing," said Canavan. "I think that part of it feels like at least they can tell me I’ve still got it whether or not I decide to do it. But as long as they say no then maybe I never really did have it and it was all just a dream.”
Despite Canavan’s slight self- doubt, her vocal coach of about four years, Kelley Nassief, described her as wonderful, hardworking, and said she has a natural instinct that can’t be taught. If she were to pursue a career in music, she has full support. Nassief stated, “I think she’s got an excellent chance of being able to have a career in music.”
Canavan’s list of achievements is extensive. Her biggest accomplishment was performing in the choir with The Who on their Quadrophenia tour’s California stop. She was in the Teensations, a professional singing group from 2013-2016. While with the Teensations she recorded a CD and did over 100 live performances and over 50 television and radio shows.
Canavan loves music. “I will never not sing. My mom used to say I started singing before I could talk.”
When asked about her musical aspirations, she said, “Growing up I only ever wanted to be an artful person of performance (a singer, actor, musician).” After years of pursuing an education, she realized it “is not the world that is real, like what I had created in my head for a future.”
What the future holds isn’t clear, but, Canavan says, “I have no idea what I’m going to do. For the first time that’s not a very scary thing. Music will never not be in my life. Who knows if I’ll do it professionally when I’m older, but I can say confidently that I have had a minor professional career in music.”