March 26, 2002 11:00 pm
'I've been singing gospel since I was 3 years old.' -Andrea Corbett (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
'I've been singing gospel since I was 3 years old.' -Andrea Corbett (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

At 21, Andrea Corbetts life revolves around the sound of music.

Performance is what I thrive on, what I love, the Eastern Oregon University music major said.

Corbett earned kudos from La Grande audiences recently with her soprano role in Mozarts Requiem Mass, performed by the combined university and community choirs and the Grande Ronde Symphony.

Id like a career in opera. I want to be on the stage performing, she said.

Corbetts studies at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio, and Eastern have focused on developing a classical sound and repertoire.

Andrea is a very talented singer with a maturity to her voice that is well beyond her years, said Peter Wordelman, associate professor of music at Eastern and Corbetts teacher.

Her talent was recognized by Oberlin when, after graduating from Hermiston High School, she competed for admittance to the conservatory at the same time she was accepted by Eastern. She chose Oberlin.

She studied at Oberlin for three years, but following an automobile accident one summer, she decided to return to Eastern Oregon.

Although she declined to discuss the details of the accident, Corbett said she suffered some neck injuries and developed TMJ, a disorder of the jaw.

Shes been working to recover and strengthen her voice since.

Its hard to get off track, she said, but Ive been a trooper.

Despite the setback, her ambition hasnt flagged, and with her graduation from Eastern scheduled for 2003, Corbett has set her sights on further study in Europe, maybe France.

I can speak French, she said. Id like to study there or in Italy. Studying in Europe is important to me.

Meanwhile, shes studying in class, taking a minor in business, and training with Wordelman. She said shes not sure

whether shes a mezzo-soprano or a soprano, although she sang soprano in the Requiem.

In high school I was an alto, but as I grew up, my range has increased, she said. I love the mezzo-soprano, but Peter (Wordelman) wants to push the envelope into the soprano range.

I try to push my repertoire I like to challenge myself. Its critical to be open to new ideas and opportunities.

The business minor is an insurance. Corbett said she believes a good grounding in business will help her move into and maintain a professional career.

You need to be knowledgeable, she said. You need to know how to market yourself.

Corbett had her first experience before an audience at 11 or 12, when her grandmother, a co-director of the Miss Missouri Pageant, asked her to sing for a pageant luncheon. She doesnt remember what she sang, but she remembers the effect her voice had.

My grandma told my mother, Andrea can sing. Get her voice lessons, Corbett said.

Her training began. Years of lessons with Pendleton voice teacher David Miller led to voice competitions and performances while Corbett was in high school.

Her family settled in Hermiston when Corbett was a young teen and her father, Paul, took a position as a chemical specialist with the Army chemical depot at Umatilla. Until then, he had been in the military and the family moved often, she said.

The only girl in a family with three children, Corbett is also the only family member who plans to be a professional musician, but she said her mother, Shirley, also sings.

I hear my mom singing sometimes, and she has a good voice, but she doesnt have any formal training, Corbett said.

Corbett has been singing her whole life.

I grew up in the front pew of the church, she said. Ive been singing gospel since I was 3 years old.

Her faith plays a large role in her personal and student life, and she calls her voice a gift from the Lord.

Corbett, who enrolled at Eastern last fall, found a job in her church, becoming an assistant youth coordinator at La Grandes First Presbyterian, a job that keeps her busy about 12 hours a week.

Shes not singing professionally yet, but when the Eastern chorale performs, her voice is there.

Right now, my focus is on college on meeting the requirements, she said.

Reach Alice Perry Linker at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it