Finding Your Voice
Lindy Lee, Director/Producer
About the Project
An uplifting and heartfelt, one-hour, Verite docu-series, following America’s premiere operatic countertenor, the astonishingly talented John Holiday; as he performs in the world’s most prestigious musical venues, smashes through glass ceilings in the music industry and society as a gay, African American man with a soprano range voice; along with teaching and inspiring young and diverse singers as an Associate Professor at the prestigious School of Music at the University in Maryland.
It is a deep dive into what drives, moves, and challenges musicians in finding the soul of the music in their performances. It will be a delicious combination of the high-art musical shows well-loved by PBS audiences, combined with deeply insightful conversations, masterclasses with successful musicians, and Verite scenes with John, his students, and professional musical colleagues.
“Holiday is a force of nature, no doubt about it. His voice is supple, fierce, exceptionally beautiful and has the power of the Radio City Music Hall organ wonderfully dynamic, possessed of star wattage, somewhat celestial…’ Houston Press.
Until you’ve witnessed John Holiday singing, it’s hard to imagine that there is any person who can perform with such deep sensitivity, soul, power and stellar soprano range, let alone it coming from a MAN.
John moves with fluid brilliance between the musical genres of opera, jazz, blues, R&B, gospel and contemporary pop, in a way that most opera singers cannot. But get to know John the man, and you’ll also find a person who is as exceptional a human, as his voice is otherworldly. Such is the phenomenon that is John Holiday...
The 'Finding Your Voice' Verite docu-series will be an inspiring, heartfelt, musical feast. Each episode will follow John Holiday behind the scenes and onto the stage of his performances with companies like the iconic New York Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Houston Opera, along with contemporary performances with singers like John Legend. We will experience the highs of John's career as he achieves goals that he never imagined possible, smashes through glass ceilings as an African American singer in the operatic world, and successfully crosses over into pop music.
When not performing, John has another love that is equal to his passion for singing opera; he is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Music, in College Park, Maryland.
Each episode will also follow John as he shapes his student's voices and inspires the lives of the next generation of opera, jazz, and musical theater singers. John's goal is to actively encourage greater diversity in the opera community in general. John feels his students are like his own kids and nurtures them with a combination of creative and life wisdom, kindness, and fierce professionalism. John leads by example and expects the same level of excellence from his students as he does from himself.
Each episode will follow the students throughout the school year as they try out new vocal sounds and eventually triumph in finding their unique voice. The series will highlight the young people's lives as they struggle with making their way in this crazy post-COVID world and at a time in history when technological disruption is making the future so uncertain. John will teach them to stand tall in who they are and to be unafraid of others' negativity. Just as John himself had to find the courage to withstand the taunts of other children, where he grew up in the outer suburbs of Houston, Texas. Life was not without its challenges being a young, gay, African American boy in the South, with an incredibly high singing voice.
'Finding Your Voice' will follow the students as John prepares them for singing competitions, concerts, auditions with opera companies, musical theater, and post-graduate studies at prestigious schools like Julliard.
Each episode will highlight the student's highs and lows, as they overcome challenges and achieve both musical and life goals.
The series will also follow John as he interacts with other successful musicians, conducting master classes for his students with award-winning performers from genres as diverse as Rap, Hip Hop, R&B, Opera, Gospel, Jazz, and contemporary music. The masterclasses will consist of conversations between John and the performer about how they find the soul of their music and their process. There will also be cross-genre combined performances between John and the venerated musician.
Some master class subjects who have already agreed to participate in the docu-series include rap icon and singer, Jidenna and the 2013 Cardiff Singer of the World winner, American Mezzo-Soprano, Jamie Barton. Both Jidenna and Jamie are not just celebrated musicians; they are also social activists and believe in using their position as a platform to educate others.
The series will then take John back to his roots in Texas, meet his family, go to his church where he first sang in the choir, and then on to the Houston Boys' Choir, which he later joined. We’ll also meet John’s Grandma, a highly-skilled gospel/jazz singer and piano teacher in her own right, who shaped John musically and nurtured his talent.
Another episode will follow John and his husband DeMario at their happy musical home. The couple met on NBC's 'The Voice' in 2020 when both were contestants on the show. We will spend joyful time behind the scenes with John and DeMario, as they hang out and sing together.
The series finale will showcase the students performing their most successful song for the broader audience of the UMD community and follow them as they take their first brave steps into their post-graduate lives.
‘Finding Your Voice' will be a heartwarming and inspirational celebration of music, and will teach the audience about following their dreams, being fully empowered with their talents, and feeling proud of who they are, in all their glory.
Australian-born director Lindy Lee, is a lifelong musician herself, and was trained to sing as a young adult by Australian countertenor Hartley Newnham. Her last documentary, 'The Greatest Bond' is available to be viewed on PBS, Amazon Prime and iTunes.