With a three + octave range and a voice that’s comparable to Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion, Gina Zavalis is making waves in the music industry. A seasoned performer, Gina has made her way from the New York Theatre world to a skyrocketing solo music career that landed her a performance of the national anthem at Yankee Stadium, which is a dream to any singer, let alone a New York native. Continue reading for an inside look at this musical star’s rise to success.
PYNKLIPSTICK: You started your career in the New York theatre world. Can you take us through your career journey to this point?
GINA: I started singing when I was 3 years old and studied professionally and performing professionally by the time I was 10 years old. I never stopped studying, as I believe it’s critical. Performing and studying theatre, musical theatre and opera provided me with an extraordinary amount of discipline since I was serious about it. I was one of those serious glee club kids! Always performing, I went on to study at Fordham University where I earned a BA in Theatre. Upon graduating, I performed in Regional Theatre, National Tours, Off-Broadway shows and also did session work, voice-overs, jingles and some film and TV. After living this lifestyle for many years, I decided to take a short break. This was when I started to receive a ton of encouragement from others to pursue a solo career and write my own music. Well, here I am today pursuing my dream!
PYNKLIPSTICK: What sparked you to leave your comfort zone and write your own music?
GINA: Receiving a lot of encouragement from many people in the business and outside of the business. Writing my own music enabled me to let out so much inside me, it became evident the most natural way for me to let it all out was via songwriting. I decided to try it and really enjoyed it. I also discovered how rewarding it is to write, record and sing a song you wrote. This enabled me to connect with the song on a deeper level, as I know first hand what message I want to get across to the listener, since I wrote it. So, I began to write lyrics and it just flowed from there. I feel very blessed to be able to writing and keep improving the craft every time I pick up the pen. I am now starting to write the music as well and it’s a very exciting process.
PYNKLIPSTICK: What song of yours are you most proud of?
GINA: I am proud of all of them, but if I had to pick one, I’d have to pick “In Your Eyes”, which is my current single. Why? It’s my first song and my first attempt at lyric writing. When I wrote it, I was going through a difficult time in my life and it all came out in the song. So, it’s very special to me, has a ton of meaning and I absolutely love singing it live.
PYNKLIPSTICK: You had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at a Yankee Game this past season. Although you are a seasoned performer, I can imagine this can be overwhelming. What was going through your head as you stepped on the field?
GINA: Wow! This was an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity, especially for me, as a native New Yorker and lifetime Yankee fan! I was able to sit in the dug out with the players and chat with them before the game as they were warming up. That was very exciting, but nothing compares to stepping out on the perfectly manicured lawn…in front of a sold out crowd who were screaming, yelling and whistling. I remember stepping behind home plate to take my place at the microphone and it was exhilarating to be in front of such a large, rowdy crowd! I also remember looking up into the grandstands and it looked as though there was a huge monster hovering over me. However, I think what made me the most nervous were the men whistling while I was trying to sing! When the game was over, I learned that Tom Seaver, who was an announcer at the time, had said on live TV “& radio, “Wow! What a voice! That’s about the best voice we heard all year! Gina Zavalis!” That was an amazing compliment I will never forget. This event was definitely a highlight of my career.
PYNKLIPSTICK: What would you be doing if you weren’t performing?
GINA: I can’t imagine doing anything else since I’ve been singing since the age of three, however, if I had to pick, I’d be a criminal profiler and analyst for the FBI. I love psychology; I think it’s the actress in me who loves to analyze behavior!
PYNKLIPSTICK: Who is your musical role model/influence?
GINA: When I first started in theatre, my musical influences were musical theatre greats like Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, and Elaine Paige. As I grew older and started my solo career, my musical influences began to include Celine Dion, Lara Fabian, Linda Eder, Whitney Houston, Sarah Brightman, David Phelps, Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli & Josh Groban.
PYNKLIPSTICK: We all just welcomed in 2012 and many made resolutions of things to achieve in the new year. Did you make any new years resolutions? If so, have you kept up with them so far?
GINA: I never make resolutions but this year I did! My resolution is to block out negativity in all forms. I’m into health, both physical and mental, and believe this is key, especially for women. I want to keep giving, growing, learning, smiling, laughing and generally better myself as a human being and as an artist by continuing to improve my craft and give back to the community. I am a work in progress – this year my goal is to focus on that and be the best I can be.
PYNKLIPSTICK: Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
GINA: I am very goal oriented, determined, hard working and focused. My goals are to have a very successful music career, to be a household name, to own my own production company, to keep learning and growing in my craft, to write, record and sing meaningful music and to make a living solely from my music. All I want to do is sing and give my gift to others to inspire and help them in some way.
PYNKLIPSTICK: Your songs are full of emotion and it’s evident that you are passionate about your work. What message do you hope listeners take from your songs?
GINA: If my songs can evoke emotion in the listener, or perhaps a memory, or inspire them in some unique way, or give them hope, then I feel I’ve done my job. For me, one of the most important aspects of a performance is to communicate the message of the song to the audience, so they can feel what I am feeling as I sing. My music is passionate, inspirational, full of hope, faith, empowerment, strength, being true to yourself and acquiring the love and acceptance of yourself as well as others. Life is tough, but you can be tougher and get through anything you put your mind to. Evoking these emotions in the listener makes me feel as though I’ve brought them to a higher level of awareness.
To learn more about Gina Zavalis and to purchase her CD, please visit www.ginazavalis.com.