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Behind the Scenes with Soprano Janai Brugger

This post is a part of a series of playlists curated by artists, UMS Staff, and community. Check out more music here.

Handel's Messiah

Photo: Handel’s Messiah. Courtesy of Mark Gjukich Photography.

Soprano Janai Brugger performs at our annual Handel’s Messiah on December 6-7, 2014. We had the chance to chat with Janai about her time in Ann Arbor and about what she’s been listening to lately. Check out her selections in the playlist below.

UMS: We know that you’re a University of Michigan alum. Can you talk a little about your time in Ann Arbor, and what you’re looking forward to in coming back?

Janai Brugger: It’s been five years since I graduated from the University of Michigan, so I am truly excited to return to Ann Arbor to perform at my alma mater! I have so many wonderful memories of my time at U-M, that I’m not sure exactly where to start or which ones to pick.

One of my fondest memories was attending my Studio Class with [U-M Professor] Shirley Verrett. Listening to my colleagues sing through new repertoire, seeing the process each week, critiquing, growing together was so much fun. Ms. Verrett was very adamant in asking us to always say something that we liked about a performance before listing the things we wished we could’ve done better. That was an important lesson and reminder for me during that time, and it continues to be something I remember today when I receive criticism. the class was always a supportive environment, tons of laughter, great music, and we heard amazing stories from Ms. Verrett. Our studio class was like a family, and we all looked forward to gathering together and singing for one another.

Another memory from my time at the University is meeting my husband! Javier Orman was a U-M Violin Master’s student, and we were introduced through a mutual friend. We had our first date a Pierpont Commons and talked for hours over hot chocolate [laughs]. So, in many ways Ann Arbor is very special for that reason, because I met my partner and best friend there. He’s such a wonderful person and a very talented musician and artist, whom I respect and admire more and more each day.

Janai’s Playlist:
Mozart’s The Magic Flute
I am studying the role of Pamina for my Covent Garden debut next year.

German Lieder sung by Barbara Bonney
I am singing a few song recital concerts with tons of German Lieder, and Barbara Bonney is one of my favorite interpreters of these songs

The Best of Ella Fitzgerald
I love listening to Ella sing, especially when I need a little escape from the classical world [laughs].

Motown Classics
I grew up listening to Motown artists and it’s just such great feel good music, it gets my energy going and makes me happy!

The Monster Mash hit album for kids
I’m putting this playlist together around Halloween, and my son is a year-and-a-half, so we are listening to lots of fun Halloween songs for kids. He loves it!

Selected Tracks on our Spotify Playlist:

What did you think about this playlist? Share your thoughts or song suggestions in the comments below.