Victoria Canal performing at YoungArts Week 2015. Photo by Jason Koerner,
Singer-songwriter Victoria Canal is a 2015 Winner in Voice and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. YoungArts sat down to ask her about discovering the competition by chance, what it's like to be surrounded by other creatives, and interviewing record producer and DJ Arthur Baker.
Can you share what motivated you to apply to YoungArts?
I remember being 16 and flying into Atlanta with my mom. We were traveling together at the time and she was helping me out with music opportunities and generally keeping my life organized. I was doing online high school at the time because nobody at school really understood why I was spending every free moment in a practice room writing songs and practicing the piano...but it was what I spent every breathing moment wanting to do. It was in the airport that we saw a sign with a singer on it that I had discovered online a couple of years before, Max Schneider. The poster was promoting an organization I had no idea about called "YoungArts." My mom and I looked at it and turned to each other, thinking, "Well that looks pretty cool." It didn't really come up again until the day before auditions were due and my mom rushed into my room, saying, "You can't miss this deadline! I have a gut feeling about this!" Moms: they're always right. Little did I know she was helping open the door for one of the most memorable experiences of my young life.
What was your YoungArts experience?
I think a lot of YoungArts alums can relate when I say that being the obsessively passionate artist in school doesn't always work to one's favor socially. So, to all of a sudden be embraced by and immersed with all of these other obsessively passionate artists in other disciplines who just get it is something so rare. I spent a week just feeling more like I could be my weird expressive self with other people who skipped recess and parties to work on their craft. YoungArts Week is this haven where people come together to celebrate passion and perseverance through vastly dynamic forms of expression. The community alone is "art" to me.
What made your YoungArts Week special?
Like I said, meeting so many focused, passionate artists flipped my perspective upside down; suddenly, I wasn't alone in the universe. I'd gained access to this incredible resource of people, from young and excited to wiser and more experienced, who have had the courage to embrace their dream with clasped arms and run with it. Every morning of that week I woke up to exciting new experiences that I couldn't have even daydreamed about before. Every truly dedicated young artist wakes up every day, thinking, "Gosh, I hope I get to do what I love today, a lot." YoungArts recognizes that and meticulously picks the select few who they think deserve to have that dream manifest itself. It starts with "just a week." That week is the beginning of a lifetime.
Did you learn anything you had not known before? If so, what was it?
I definitely discovered a determination and will within myself that I hadn't quite fully embraced before. YoungArts was this subconscious transition for me from relying on my parents to keep focused to truly taking responsibility for my future as an artist. I learned that my "job" description as an artist is to oversee the everyday maintenance of my vision, ensuring it stays intact and evolves. My vision, my art, is a muscle I have the duty and desire to train, every single day of my entire life. YoungArts taught me that.
What kind of opportunities have arisen from being a part of the program?
Besides making lifelong friends who are living their dreams around the world? I spent a week rehearsing in Washington, D.C. to perform at The Kennedy Center under Debbie Allen's direction. I was flown out to Miami to interview two industry giants about what it takes to stand out in the music industry. I ate cake with one of the most incredible producers of our time. I've kept in touch with film and dance alumni who I'm collaborating with through cyber space. I mean... it's been incredible. YoungArts has remained a huge part of my life without me even actively trying; they've just kept pointing opportunities in my direction. I've been and continue to be so proud to be a part of their community.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I used to be the kind of person that would always plan ten years ahead. I still love to plan, but I've learned that it's more like a state of mind to be in every day. If I could choose what I'd be doing in ten years, at 28 (let's say 30, for OCD purposes), I'd be wrapping up one of my last world tours, opening a recording studio of my own, and beginning a new phase of life as a public speaker, prime music industry curator, and writer/producer for other artists. I will always make my own music, but these next ten years are what I consider my road years. I've been living out of a suitcase for nearly three years and am jet-focused on doing exactly what I'm doing for the next ten. Afterwards, though, it'd be nice to call somewhere home and build a community of music and joy wherever I decide to settle. YoungArts is just a call away if I need artist friends around the world, so I just know I'll be involved with them for decades to come.