Stepping up to the microphone on the stage of Cochran Chapel, Denise Taveras ’21 performed a solo part of the song “The Color Purple” at All-School Meeting on May 18, 2018. With the entire Chorus harmonizing behind her, Taveras’ voice rose and fell with the melodious tune as her singing filled the chapel.
“[‘The Color Purple’] is such as beautiful song, and the poetry of it is mesmerizing. When I auditioned for it and received the solo, I was beyond proud… I usually don’t like to listen to myself sing, but when I heard a recording of the performance, I was amazed by what I am actually capable of. It really opened my eyes to what I can do and what I can work on,” said Taveras.
Though Taveras only started performing for large audiences and auditioning for talent shows in eighth grade, she has always liked to sing. She started singing solos at her church from a young age.
“I used to go to this church and occasionally they would let kids sing solos in front everyone. There was this one song that I would always sing because it was the only one I knew; it was called ‘Jesus Loves Me’. It was just that refrain for three minutes,” said Taveras.
Taveras feels that her singing has developed over the years through more experience with different vocal styles. She also views singing as a form of expression, which has helped her build self-confidence.
“Before I started to sing I didn’t have anything that I really cared about or that really pushed me. Singing is something that I know that no matter where I go in life, it’s going to be there for me and I can always rely on it as a way to cope or to express myself. I can just be myself through singing,” said Taveras.
Angelina Collado ’21, a friend of Taveras, said that she constantly hears Taveras singing in her dorm and in everyday life. She likes listening to Taveras sing not only because of her voice, but also because she spreads joy by doing what she loves.
“Hearing Denise sing is an experience that everyone should go through in life… Listening to Denise sing brings me so much joy, because not only is she a good singer but she also loves to sing, so whenever she sings I know that she’s happy and it makes me happy. Hearing Denise talk about singing and music you can tell that she is really passionate about it,” said Collado.
Taveras is a member of Azure, Fidelio, and Chorus on campus. She feels that engaging in the Andover community through music has limited her time to socialize, but has helped her find a second family in the singing groups she participates in.
“I spend so much time with members of these groups, and Fidelio particularly comes to mind. We spend hours together each week and call each other the “Fidi Fam.” We also have to support each other, because sometimes when I sing, I might not feel that I did the song justice, so I rely on others to help me and give me feedback. They push me and we all hold each other up,” said Taveras.
Besides her voice teachers and group members, Taveras found inspiration in one person last year, Blake Campbell ’18. She met Campbell in last year’s musical production, Ragtime.
“Blake is probably one of the coolest people I have ever met on this campus that I have aspired to be like. When I first came to Andover there were a lot of singers that sing a more soulful, gospel type of music. When Blake was here, Blake had the voice,” said Taveras.
Another one of Taveras’ friends, Jeffrey Steele ’20, stated that listening to her voice was inspiring.
“When I hear Denise sing, she blows it out of the water and redefines what I thought singing could be,” said Steele. “It is really touching to hear Denise sing a genre that I grew up listening to because it makes me happy and I can feel her voice in my soul.”