Shana Blake Hill was transcendent in the role of Sakagawea, imbuing the iconic persona with vibrant passion, independent spirit and depth of character. Her warmly lyrical, fluid voice shone with a polished brilliance that did not sacrifice tonal beauty for power.

— The Forum

Interviews and Media Appearances

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Body of Work
Monday, June 25, 2007
Bucking cultural norms and music-industry trends, overweight singers find greater acceptance in certain musical styles. Sometimes, their body types are even considered essential. Today, we talk with Rachel Giese of CBC Arts Online; Anne Midgette, classical music critic of the New York Times; and opera singer Shana Blake Hill about singers who defy expectations, from Beth Ditto (of pop-punk group the Gossip) to soul diva Aretha Franklin.
Rachel Giese’s article, “The Fat Lady Sings”
Guests: Rachel Giese, Shana Blake Hill and Anne Midgette
got to:

New York 1, June 2007 Hefty Singers a thing of the past

To watch the TV spot go to:

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “The opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings.” Well, if that’s a cue you’re waiting for these days, you could be sitting through a never-ending performance. NY1 Health & Fitness reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.

From the glamorous Russian singer Anna Netrebko to lyric soprano Deborah Voight, post-gastric bypass, gone seem to be the days of the image of the hefty opera singer belting out arias with horns fixed on top of her head.

More and more, the opera world seems to be slimming down, and that’s one of the reasons why up-and-coming opera star Shana Blake Hill says she’s been not only been focusing on her voice, but also the rest of her body.

“We are in a time of change. The industry is shifting,” says Hill. “We are trying as an industry to reach out to a more youthful audience, and the more youthful audience is very media influenced.”

Hill says she can spend up to six hours a day rehearsing during an opera. And another hour-and-a-half of her day is spent working out, or what she calls taking care of her instrument.

Work-outs with celebrity fitness trainer Justin Gelband have taken the bi-coastal singer down about eight sizes within the past year. Other than focusing on proper diet, Hill and Gelband say the key to her workouts have been lots of variety and doing things in a healthy way without beating herself up.

“I think I was between a size 10 and 12, which is not significantly overweight, but enough that it was making me tired,” says Hill. “I was not feeling youthful. I was not feeling confident.”

“I think with Shana what really changed is the fact that I was doing all these different things like yoga, like Pilates, like breathing, like meditation, functional training, balance and stability; always having her on the move,” says Justin Gelband.

Recently in New York rehearsing composer Bright Sheng’s “The Phoenix” for the Seattle Symphony, Hill says be it a good-or-bad thing, industry-wise trimming down has made a difference.

“I just actually worked with a director who had heard me two years ago and liked me but had not cast me because of my size,” says Hill. “It really affected his perception of me as a leading lady, as a heroin, as the pretty girl in the show.

And while a changing body may be helping her snag different roles, Hill says it’s also making her singing voice stronger. But she adds the biggest outcome is the impact it’s having on her personally.

“There is a difference about losing weight weak and losing weight strong,” she says. “Becoming stronger is a good thing; it can only be a good thing.”

And that seems like something to sing about.

Kafi Drexel