Acapella music is in the public eye more than ever. From movies to TV shows to concerts, people can’t get enough of live acapella music. One of the country’s premiere vocal groups, Voctave, made a name for themselves with their impeccable arrangements of Disney music, something that makes sense in that each member is or was a singer with the Voices of Liberty at Disney World. With Voctave’s new album, The Spirit of the Season, available now, I caught up with vocalist Tiffany Coburn to talk about acapella music, singing at Epcot for a living and what sustains her as a singer.
What was the initial draw to sing at Disney?
I heard you got paid to sing for a living. I was living in California in 1988 and I heard you got paid to sing for a living in this group in Florida so I went there, never having been there before, and when I heard them, I thought I was way out of my league. Apparently there was a different plan for me and they hired me. I left to travel with a group called TRUTH and I also traveled to sing with Sandi Patty, but since I’ve been back, it’s been 17 years full time. I’ll stay as long as they’ll keep me.
After so many years, what keeps you singing at Disney?
I love what we do. I’m terribly proud of what we are and what we represent. We represent patriotism and the love of a great country. We get to do that in a beautiful way that tugs at people’s emotions. We have more groupies now than we’ve ever had; people want to talk to us and know we’re real people. I love people so I really enjoy that part of it. There’s a tangible thing with our group that’s different than just going to a concert. Plus, it’s an amusement park so people are happy to be there. What kind of a job do you go to and get applause from happy people every day. How crazy is that? I love the music and the live performance.
How does Voctave challenge and fulfill you artistically in a way your other endeavors don’t?
First, Jamey Ray is an absolute genius. I can’t get over how he comes up with these arrangements we get to sing. What I love about his challenge to us is that he arranges for each individual voice. Every person has a different and exceptional skill set and he’s learned what those skills are within each of us. When he crafts the song, he does so in a way that makes each voice shine. On our current record, our high soprano, Kate, is extraordinary. He wrote this song for her that’s so specifically for her that it can’t be replicated. That’s the amazing detail and thought put into the songs. His arrangements are challenging so my most immediate challenge is to take what we recorded in the studio and put it on a live stage.
The new album is truly astounding. What part of the process is your favorite: The rehearsal, the performing, or the finished product?
The performance. All of it has its own merit and is fun but for me, the live performance is my favorite. I love the challenge of it and watching people’s faces when they hear something ridiculously hard. We know these songs are hard. If I can humbly say this, we’ve been given gifts and as a group, we make sound that astounds. I love the energy we produce as a team.
You’re singing with Voices of Liberty at Disney World, you have solo music, you’re singing with Voctave, how’s that juggling act going?
It’s been something. It’s quite hectic. The Voctave stuff has been the big push recently. I’m thankful for my job since they’re flexible and I’m able to do many things. My life also balances out in that I have a supportive family with my husband Chip and my daughter Paris.
How do you grow as an artist?
I love to sing. It’s my passion and my heart. To be given the gift of this job, a full time job singing during the day where I can go home to my family at night, I will never forget it. The music is so exceptional and I can’t believe I get to sing it. That charges me up. Being a people person, I love the challenge of making it awesome every time. Yes, it’s a job so there are days you have to dig a little deeper to find the joy to put out there, but on those days, because I love what I do, it’s easier. And eventually on those days, you get charged from the people’s reaction. Music does something to me on the inside and I’ll never get over it. When I’m doing a church concert, and there are ten people in the audience, those ten people gave up something to be there and you have to be your best. I’m the same for them as an audience of 500 at Disney.
I have a Christmas EP coming out of classic Christmas songs and I’m hoping to do a symphony album next year. The stuff with Voctave is a blast and that’s what’s on my plate right now. What happens with us next, I can only dream of.
Interview by Ryan Brinson