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KUOW Presents

Elena Louise Richmond: Singing Badly Saved My Life

Joshua McNichols

Elena Louise Richmond directs the Seattle–based OK Chorale, a choir where it's okay to be just okay, where imperfection is forgiven and even celebrated. But Elena had a hard time forgiving herself. She'd failed as a professional singer, lacking the stamina to sing for long performances. And she was dangerously depressed.

Then, an unusual vocal coach named Tommie Eckert challenged her to sing badly, on purpose. Elena discovered the unpleasant sounds she created were part of a mature singing voice. The exercise changed her forever, and taught her to actually enjoy performing as a soloist — for the first time in her life.

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