Master of Vocal Pedagogy, UNC Greensboro (Current)
Bachelor of Arts in Music, Vocal Performance, UNC Charlotte (2018)
Hometown: Denton, NC
With her vocal performance degree, Larsen moved to Nashville, Tennessee, right after graduation to pursue her career in music. There, she worked at ASCAP as a licensing associate, where she sold music licenses on behalf of recording artists, songwriters, composers, authors, and publishers so they could get paid in royalties. It was through connections at this position that she received her job working at the Country Music Awards (CMA.) After working the CMAs for two years, she moved back to North Carolina to pursue a master's degree in vocal pedagogy. Hear about her encounters with Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, and Garth Brooks, and how our Department of Music prepared her for her career!
// What brought you to Nashville after graduation?
I took a vacation there prior to graduation and fell in love with it. After I saw all the record labels and recording studios, I knew I had to move to Nashville to start my career in music.
// Can you tell us about working the CMAs?
I’ve had the opportunity to work for the CMAs two years in a row. Last year, I made a friend in the industry who connected me with the opportunity. It was so surreal because it was the first time I had ever been around famous singers and I truly saw what it was like to be in their world. Since I was a veteran this year, they gave me more responsibilities, and I was assigned to three artists to manage throughout the three rehearsal days and night-of-show. My artists were Lindsay Ell, Carly Pearce, and Ashley McBryde. I totally had fangirl moments when I first met them, but they treated me like a friend and had personal conversations with me. I worked for the TV talent department and was responsible for making sure my artists made it to their rehearsals, red carpet, interviews, photo ops, and performances. Working behind the scenes backstage for country music’s biggest night can be very overwhelming, but also very exciting because you get to see how celebrities interact with people on a personal level.
// What are some moments that stood out to you at the CMAs?
My favorite moment was when Dolly Parton took the time to speak to me. She was so busy hosting, but as she was walking to her dressing room, she stopped and had a personal conversation with me. I was completely speechless and in awe of her. She was so humble and kind, and it was definitely a memory I will cherish forever. Carrie Underwood was the main host and also acknowledged me throughout rehearsals. Ashley McBryde won New Artist of the Year, and as I was standing off stage to meet her, she ran and gave me a big hug! I was escorting Lindsay Ell to her dressing room, and she stopped in the hallway to speak with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Pink, all at once. Reba McEntire followed me to stage once for her rehearsal and gave me a smile and wink... then as I was standing on the stage while she was rehearsing “Fancy,” Garth Brooks walked up right up to me and stood by me to watch her rehearse... another one of my favorite moments of the CMA week!
// What are you currently working on?
I’ve been getting into songwriting recently. Before I studied music at UNC Charlotte, I never even attempted to write or compose. While at UNC Charlotte I learned piano, so using that skill has helped broaden my songwriting capabilities. I currently sing for my church and perform for weddings. I moved back from Nashville to pursue my Master in Vocal Pedagogy degree, so I am working a few part-time jobs until I start school at UNC Greensboro in January. I’ve also been working with my friend Sarah Torres, a pianist and fellow UNC Charlotte Department of Music graduate. She and I love singing/playing together and are currently working on a Christmas set to perform for the holiday season.
// What are your goals with working toward your masters in vocal pedagogy?
One of my main goals with studying vocal pedagogy is to fully understand the science of singing so that I can apply it to my performing and have a long-lasting career as a singer. My career goals include wanting to make another move to either Los Angeles or New York City to be a voice professor and, hopefully, I will make connections to eventually get a record deal. That is my dream - to be a recording artist/entertainer. If I have learned anything from my experiences with famous singers, it is to never ever give up on your dreams... so there is no stopping me!
// What steps have you taken to establish a career in voice/the music industry?
To start a career in the music industry, you just have to be bold and always say "yes" to any opportunity. I worked for ASCAP, a performing rights organization, which gave me my connection to the CMAs and many contacts of recording artist managers. I've just been invited to work the ACMs this summer. I also worked with Grammy award-winning songwriters during songwriting sessions on Music Row, and I keep in contact with those musicians often. Networking is so important in the music industry. Social media is a huge way to get started, so I frequently put my music out there and collaborate with other musicians. When I perform with others, I am held accountable to know my parts and do my best, so I love being challenged in that way. I audition for any and everything. Auditioning helps my confidence and makes me a better live performer. I never pass up an opportunity to sing anywhere, whether it’s at weddings, church events, or open mic nights.
// What about your education at UNC Charlotte prepared you/inspired you for your career?
I was in Dr. Brian Arreola’s voice studio during my time in the music department. I learned so much from him... I credit him with helping me discover a range of my voice I never used before: the whistler register. He made me realize that my voice is unique and rare, and I can get many performing jobs because of my vocal capabilities. He helped me become a better singer, and I owe him so many thanks. He also inspired me to pursue my masters so I could become a voice professor, because I thoroughly enjoyed how he taught.
// What was your favorite thing about UNC Charlotte's Department of Music?
My favorite thing was the concerts and recitals. There are so many talented students and faculty in the department, and it is showcased in the concerts. Every time I watched a fellow student or professor perform, I felt so honored to be in their presence. Walking in the halls every day hearing students solo practice, going to ensemble rehearsals, and watching all their hard work pay off in performances was something I truly appreciated and respected.
// What do you want prospective students considering the Department of Music to know?
How amazing the music faculty is. Every single professor cares about your personal success and will help you in any way that they can. They challenge you, push you, and make you better in so many ways. You also build strong relationships with these professors which continue to grow beyond graduation as they help you establish careers in music. I cannot speak more highly about the music faculty.
// What advice do you have for current CoA+A students?
Pursing the arts is difficult, especially when it comes to starting a career. While you are working on your degree, make sure you think about professional career opportunities. Try to get internships and build connections in your industry while you are still a student!