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Former BMCC Student Pursues Career in Music

August 28, 2008

Lisa Cobham is a trained mezzo-soprano who travels throughout Connecticut performing at various jazz festivals and vocal competitions. She has studied opera, won first prize in the 2007 Waterbury Classic Concerts Competition and appeared in various musical performances. She has performed with Kenny Rogers and Kenny Loggins, and is currently studying with Metropolitan Opera soloist Brenda Boozer.

But that's not all -- this talented singer is also a proud BMCC alum. She studied liberal arts and dance at BMCC in the early 90s for a few semesters before transferring to Central Connecticut State University.

A graduate of Montclair High School in New Jersey, Cobham said she felt "like downtown was the place to be," which led to her enrollment at BMCC. "I just thought that Chambers St. and the World Trade Center and the World Financial Center was just the most wonderful place. And BMCC was the closest to all of that, at that time."

Cobham studied dance at BMCC under famed modern dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey. "It was his latter years," says Cobham. "I took ballet in the morning, I had modern dance after that, and jazz and it just kind of went on throughout the day."

At BMCC, she was also involved with a dance club that toured all over New York City.

To pass time in-between her BMCC classes, Cobham says she played the card game 'Spades' with friends in the cafeteria, and could be spotted singing around the campus. "You know, it's funny -- when I was at BMCC I was definitely not one of the quiet students," she laughs. "But I wasn't singing then, I was dancing. But I always did sing and I loved the songs that we danced to."


At BMCC, Cobham recalls singing the songs she danced to backstage in a dressing room or bathroom before every show, even though she wasn't focused on singing professional at that time.


After getting married and having children, Cobham moved to New Haven with her family, enrolling at the nearby Southern Connecticut State University. She is still in touch with a good friend from BMCC, who also moved to Connecticut.


"I miss New York all the time," Cobham says. "My favorite thing that I love about New York is the culture -- the opera that you can just get at your fingertips, anytime."

Explanation of 'Mezzo-Soprano'

As a mezzo-soprano, Cobham says her singing voice is higher than an alto, which means that she has an alto range, but can also hit many sopranos notes -- including the "Middle C" which is, according to her, "always the note that everyone looks for and they're on edge in the audience waiting."

The first time she ever performed professionally was at her sister’s wedding, which made her nervous because she comes from a musical family. Cobham is the daughter of world-renown master jazz drummer Billy Cobham, and her grandfather was a NYC-based jazz pianist.

Since singing at her sister's wedding, Cobham has focused on pursuing a career in performing, mostly focusing on opera. Her past credits include performances in Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Dido and Aeneas, Carmina Bruana and Bach's Magnificat.

Cobham has won many competitions, which are a great way for up-and-coming singers to showcase their talent. "Competitions are where a lot of singers get their start, and they become professional in that way," she says. "And from that, they are seen and recruited for shows."

She has performed professionally throughout Connecticut. Could Carnegie Hall or The Met be next? As the adage says, you never know. "I really have only been doing this for approximately four years now," says Cobham. "At this point, I am really trying to get my experience to catch up with the talent."

Cobham will soon be performing at the New Haven Jazz Festival and is working on a holiday recording.

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