Chat Room - Amanda Ingram

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By Lance Coleman

Maryville native Amanda Marie Ingram has done plenty of odd jobs since graduating Yale University 18 months ago. One of the most memorable was working in Times Square in New York City promoting the play "The Wedding Singer." Then again, the 28-year-old also has had some career highlights. One of the more notable was when she performed at the opera house in Milan, Italy. The odd jobs are the road any up-and-coming opera singer treads through in New York City.

"New York City is the opera singer’s home base. People in this business live there because that’s where everybody comes to hear auditions."

Ingram graduated from Maryville High School in 1997, attended Maryville College and then switched to the University of Tennessee where she earned a bachelors degree in music. She then went to Yale University where she earned a Master’s degree in music . She has worked as an apprentice and performed with several opera companies, including the Chicago Opera Theater in 2005 and the Chautauqua Opera Company in Upstate New York.

"The best thing I’ve done so far is this past summer when I sang in Milan, Italy, with the Sinfonica di Giuseppe Verdi. Then I sang with the Sarasota Opera in Sarasota, Fla.," she says.

Her upcoming plans include stints singing as an apprentice with the Central City Opera in Denver, Colo., the Dayton Opera
in Dayton, Ohio, and then the Virginia Opera. "At this point, I have work lined-up for the next year and half, which is awesome," she says.

Ingram is still considered by those in her business to be a young artist. "Probably until I’m 32, I’ll still be considered a young artist," she explains. "Vocally, I won’t develop to my peak until my mid-30s. I’m a mezzo-soprano. It just takes a longer time to develop. It’s a richer, fuller sound," she says.

Ingram says the hardest part of her job is being away from home. "The hardest part of this job is traveling but, at the same time, it’s the best part of the job. I love home. I live out of my suitcase. At the same time I get to meet new people all the time. There are interesting people from different countries, and I get to see the world," she says. "How many people get to see the world and make a living doing it?"

Here is Amanda Ingram:

What was your most embarrassing moment?
"I fell down in the middle of the Tate Museum in London. I fell and rolled and this little British man leaned over and asked, ‘Are you quite all right?’"

Why did you pursue the career you chose?
"I love performing, plain and simple. I love to entertain an audience, and it just happened to be opera."

What was your first paying job?
"I worked at the Hallmark store."

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
"My nickname at Yale was ‘Grand Platinum Flash’ because of my hair. Normally my hair is big and curly."

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"I wanted to be an anchor woman for the Today Show. I liked telling people information."

What’s the best thing about Blount County?
"The people and the mountains. You never meet a stranger in Maryville.

To what do you attribute your success?
"If I wasn’t for my parents, Dr. John J. Ingram III and Pat Ingram, I would not be able to pursue my dream. Financially, emotionally and spiritually, they have supported me from the very beginning."

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
"Dolly Parton, without a doubt. She is a hometown girl who pursued her dreams. I heard this recently story: When she crossed over and sang her first pop hit, people told her, ‘Dolly, you’re leaving country.’ She said, ‘No, I’m not leaving Country. I’m taking it with me.’ That is how I feel about opera. Everyone in my business, my voice teacher, everyone tells me I have to lose my accent. I won’t do it. Then I won’t be me. My accent is part of who I am. I’m the only opera singer in New York City that sings opera but speaks country."

What do you hate?
"I don’t like it when people are ignored. People should not be judged by how much money they make or if they’re different. Also, I don’t like people who are narrow-minded? and I hate it when my hair is flat."

What’s your favorite quote?
"My favorite quote is, ‘Too much of a good thing can be fabulous,’ by Mae West."

What do you do to relax or for fun?
"I love spending time with friends and going to the Smoky Mountains. After being gone for a while, I have learned to appreciate it more. I love the mountains."

What is your dream vacation?
"I would love to rent a house on Martha’s Vineyard and eat lobster all day long."

What is your all-time favorite movie?
"Any of the Jane Austin movies: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Sense and Sensibilities.’ I just love that Mr. Darcy."

What is the best book you’ve ever read?
"The Secret Life of Bees."

If you won a big lottery jackpot, what is the charitable donation you would make? How would you splurge?
"Honestly I wouldn’t change anything about what I do. I would save my money. I would buy an apartment in New York City on the Upper Westside. That’s how I would splurge, and, if I was going to give my money to a charity, I would want to give to help the people of Appalachia. I would want to donate money to Maryville College to build a School of Music."

Would you travel in space?
"No, I don’t think space suits are flattering to your figure."

If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
"I’d want to go back and spend a week with my Nannie - Ella Marie Hammontree -- before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease."

What is your favorite sport and your favorite sport’s team?
"My favorite sport is tennis, and I adore Andre Agassi. He’s a true champion."

If you were Queen for a Day, what edict would you immediately pass?
"I would issue free Starbucks’ coffee on Monday mornings."

What is the best present you ever received?
"I guess I would have to say my red Dodge convertible when I was in high school."

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
"Always wear clean underwear."

Did you ever get paddled in school and if so, why?
"Never. I was a good kid."

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