Students sing their hearts out with industry professional
Sarah Jane Buckley, singer and actress, visited the University as a guest speaker to talk to students studying BA (Hons) Performance and BA (Hons) Popular Music Performance.
Sarah Jane discussed her experience in a variety of performances, including playing Kathy Barnes in Hollyoaks, and starring in the UK’s biggest and most successful Eva Cassidy concert Songbird.
She put students through their paces in her vocal masterclass, inviting them to take part in a live audition session and providing feedback on how to develop and refine their performance techniques.
We chatted to Sarah Jane about her career and advice for students entering the entertainment industry today.
What skills have you developed working in this industry to be able to work in such a variety of roles?
I think you get more confident the more you do. Any kind of gigging circuit helps build confidence and if you can get through that, you find your feet and the confidence you need to do all those other things. I would never have gone on to produce if I hadn’t done all I had before. That’s the overriding thing, passion, perseverance and confidence.
How did you get your singing career off the ground?
Vocally, I could always sing as a kid and I ended up doing some small gigs when I was sixteen and seventeen. I went to drama school and got into theatre. Singing then became part of that life.
What’s been your biggest career challenge to date?
I would say producing Songbird. Just doing that was such a big undertaking that it was scary but also exciting. I just slid into it and then ended up on this crazy ride.
It’s been a real challenge singing Eva Cassidy because it’s so not like me. Luckily, I found I was quite a good mimic, sometimes that isn’t a good thing but in this instance it was.
What advice would you give to students hoping to pursue a career in the music industry?
The most important thing is the fact that anything can happen in this industry. I recommend being open to working in different roles, even if you aren’t entirely comfortable in them. A majority of my career was spent doing musical theatre but that led into cabaret, which led into hosting and presenting.
Be persistent, be confident, nothing is impossible and dream every dream. You are right at the absolute edge of it here at the University, right at the very start. Why should anyone tell you that you can’t do anything? You can do everything. Don’t shut the door on anything you think isn’t perfect for you, you don’t know where trying something new might take you. Always try a bit of everything.
Senior Lecturer in Popular Music, Esther Frake, said: “Having Sarah Jane in today has given our students an invaluable insight into the performance industry; connecting what they’re learning on their course with the real-world.
“This experience is valuable for students to give them the extra edge in a highly competitive industry. It allows them to gain inside knowledge on how to proactively develop a successful career in performance.”