Born: March 17, 1963 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Glennis credits the origins of her talent to the rhythms of the swing and big band era that filled her childhood home with the sounds of Duke Ellington, the Dorsey brothers and Glen Miller. Her parents taught ballroom dance, so her parents' appreciation for music was a tremendous influence on Glennis and the nurturing of her musical pursuits. Although she chose to listen to the pop music of the day (oh the 70s – Carpenters! Olivia Newton John! - all that soft stuff!), she was surrounded by music of another era – that was her first exposure to music and she remembers poring over her parents’ albums of music from a bygone era.
Despite telling her mother, at the ripe age of five years old, that she was going to be a singer, she played classical piano as a child and teenager, and played clarinet for three years in her junior high band. Unfortunately, at that time, playing in a school band didn’t seem as important as other things…like being popular, trying to be cool (which the band kids weren’t!) skipping school, and smoking! So, she chose to not pursue band in high school. In fact, she dropped out of high school after grade eleven, and picked up a few courses through night school to at least get her high school diploma. She also left home at 17, and was essentially away from music for several years. Many of her friends at that time didn’t even know she was musical!
The yearn to sing never subsided. She finally had her first voice lesson at the age of 22 (rather old for beginning singing), which was quickly followed by joining Edmonton Musical Theatre, under the instruction of Dasha Goody. Training in acting, dance, chorus and solo performance launched roles in theatre, with an early review calling Glennis a delight as Carrie in the production of Carousel. She then decided to pursue a Bachelor’s of Music in Classical Voice Performance and entered the music program at the University of Calgary in 1988 as an adult student of 25. Despite her dubious history with education, she was on the Dean's List for all four years at U of C. She went on to receive a Masters of Music from the University of Colorado, Boulder (1994), after which time she realized that her heart, and voice, needed to be dedicated to a different genre of music. That realization began her move back into the music she was introduced to as a child. Attending the Vocal Jazz Camp at the internationally renowned Banff Centre of Fine Arts to study with with Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan would cement her new dedication to Jazz. Also contributing to her training were Juno-nominated Kate Hammett-Vaughn and Jennifer Scott, both of Vancouver, and further private studies Shannon Gunn, of Toronto.
As an artist, Glennis Houston has defined the triple threat of vocalists; pleasure, passion and prowess, which she clearly demonstrates on her debut CD, Lies of Handsome Men. The 2004 release received airplay on CBC, CJSW, CKUA, and other Western Canadian, U.S. and European radio and internet stations. Reviewers have handed Glennis a place among the most acclaimed in her field, calling her a marvelously talented vocalist with great tone, focus and range (Keith Hannaleck), displayed by her warm, rich, emotive vocals over 13 playfully sensual songs (Mike Bell). A shining achievement for her and a gem for her listeners, as another review interprets, The bluesy, relaxed mood suits her voice and she can hold those notes with an intense yearning that I find entirely pleasurable. (Paul Donnelly). 2009 found her in Toronto, Ontario, beginning PhD studies at York University, researching contemporary vocals and South Indian Rhythm. In 2010 she became certified through Shenandoah University Institute of Contemporary & Commercial Vocal Pedagogy. She recorded her second disc in May 2013.
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
My teaching philosophy is to provide you with a supportive and positive environment to allow you to make changes in your vocal technique and style as quickly as possible. I use simple directives without excessive verbal direction because sometimes you just need to “wait for the bus.” Although I'm classically trained with a Masters in voice and believe in using some aspects of the classical technique for a strong and solid base from which to develop, I also believe that you should be able to study the material that most interests you! I use non-classical repertoire (sometimes referred to as CCM, or contemporary commercial repertoire) and because of my love and interest in singing and performing jazz and blues, much material is derived from those genres. I use musical theatre a great deal too because some of those melodies are just too gorgeous to ignore. In addition to vocal technique and relaxation methods, I also work with you on rhythm, harmony, theory, and general musicality. It’s OK to have great technique … well, it’s great to have great technique … but if it’s only technique that you have, and no concept of the music underlying the words, then you’re not even half-way there! I want my students to be complete musicians, not “just singers.” Technique and knowledge without passion is boring, but passion without technique and knowledge is just plain embarrassing! Don't be embarrassed...don't be passionless! If you wish, you can work toward Royal Conservatory exams, Conservatory Canada exams, competitions, or not. It’s up to you. It’s also up to you to pick up that phone and call me so that you can begin to discover what your voice can do.