Who's your diva? Week one

This week's featured divas: Bobbi Mitchell and Cheryl Crawford

Juneau Lyric Opera will hold their second annual “Who’s Your Diva?” fundraiser on Sept. 15, featuring an all-new lineup of local divas.


In preparation for this year’s event, the Empire will present brief interviews with each of the nine divas throughout the month of August. This week’s featured divas are Bobbi Mitchell and Cheryl Crawford.

The popularity of last year’s inaugural event, which sold out quickly, prompted organizers to move this year’s performances to Centennial Hall. At the event, nine of Juneau’s best-known voices will vie for the title of Juneau’s official diva by performing two songs of their choice. Community members will have the opportunity to cast monetary votes for their favorite performances of the evening, with all proceeds going toward Juneau Lyric Opera.

Last year the crown went to Shona Strauser, who performed unforgettable renditions of Heart’s “Crazy On You” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

For more information on “Who’s Your Diva?,” visit www.juneauopera.org.


Bobbi Mitchell

First memorable public performance:

My first memorable public performance was singing the baccalaureate solo at my high school graduation. It was the first time my Mom and Dad were going to hear me sing and I was very nervous! The amazing pipe organ was making the floors rumble and my knees were knocking and I made mistakes I had never made before.

Three singers who have influenced you throughout your singing career:

The three singers that have influenced me would have to be Ella Fitzgerald, for her impeccable timing and improvisation; Emmy Lou Harris, who was a large influence on me when I sang in a country rock band; but most importantly, my Grandma, as I remember sitting on her knee and singing harmony with her on “Hang Down your Head, Tom Dooley.” She always believed in me.

Three songs you absolutely love to sing:

The three songs that I love to sing are pretty diverse. “God Bless the Child” is one of my favorites in the jazz genre. “O Holy Night” is a must every Christmas. And my Native heart loves to sing a Lil’wat song called the “Womens Warrior Song.”

Three songs in heavy rotation on your iPod/CD player right now:

The CDs that I listen to the most these days are k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang’s “Sing it Loud,” James Asher’s “Feet in the Soil,” and anything by Ella Fitzgerald.

Three local performers you admire:

Three local performers that I admire are Tom Locher, Kari Grovin and Jason Caputo. Tom has an amazing repertoire of music, Kari can sing anything well and does, and Jason is one of God’s own players. We are very lucky in this small town to have these world-class musicians.

Favorite place to sing (besides the stage):

My favorite places to sing, besides the stage of course, are in the car, walking the beautiful trails of Juneau and singing with the birds, and impromptu jam sessions with friends.

Favorite movie or theater role you could easily win an Oscar or a Tony Award for if given the chance:

I suppose I would have a lot of fun trying to be Bette Midler in ‘The Rose” or Sissy Spacek doing Loretta Lynn in “Coal Miners Daughter.”

Other interests besides singing:

I love being an intuitive massage therapist who plays with crystals and gemstones. I also love wild-crafting and making my own medicines. Camping and enjoying the forests and fauna brings me peace and joy as well.


Cheryl Crawford

First memorable public performance:

While technically it wasn’t a singing performance, singing WAS involved. When I was in high school, I performed a memorized bassoon solo at a regional solo/ensemble contest. Any time I couldn’t remember the notes to play, I just sang instead. Hopefully Mozart did not turn over in his grave…

Three singers (famous or not) who have influenced you throughout your singing career:

No. 1 would be Karen Carpenter. She is the first person I wanted to emulate. In fact, I practiced “Close to You” in the bathroom mirror many a time, trying to look and sound just like her. No. 2 would be my friend, Lorraine Marshall. She is the one who convinced me to join the church choir here in Juneau and start exploring my vocal abilities. Finally, No. 3 would be Diana Krall. I love jazz and I love her sultry voice. I want to sound like melted butter too!

Three songs you absolutely love to sing:

It’s difficult to narrow it down to just three but if I have to, the first song would be “The Gift of Trouble” from King Island Christmas. No matter how many times I sing this song, it never gets old — the words and melody always touch my heart and I love singing it for others. The second song would be “Sing Me to Heaven” by Daniel E Gawthrop. Between the achingly beautiful chords and words, I am moved emotionally every single time. And lastly, “Ancient of Days,” a Christian worship song written by Jamie Harvill and Gary Sadler and made notable by Ron Kenoly. The words from the book of Daniel and the fabulous rhythms just get in your bones and your spirit!

Three songs in heavy rotation on your iPod/CD player right now:

“Lux Aurumque” by Eric Whitacre — an awesome choral piece that I had the privilege of singing at the Vatican in May. The other two pieces are “Hungry” and “My Glorious” both from MercyMe’s album, “The Worship Sessions.” These worship songs encourage me, lift my spirit, and get my focus back where it needs to be.

Three local performers you admire:

Ryan Conarro is incredible. Not only is he a great director of adults and kids — comedic and dramatic — but he is an exceptional actor as well. Then there’s Lorrie Heagy. She is a phenomenally talented pianist and such a gift to the community of Juneau as a result of her implementing the El Sistema program at Glacier Valley Elementary. And finally, there’s my husband Brett Crawford. He is such an incredibly talented singer and actor and yet perfectly willing to serve both on the stage and behind it as evidenced by his cleaning up at the end of rehearsals!

Favorite place to sing (besides the stage):

The ruins of Dryburgh Abbey in Scotland are amazing. To sing in one of the remaining intact rooms is spine tingling.

Favorite movie or theater role you could easily win an Oscar or a Tony Award for if given the chance:

Jane Eyre. I read that novel when I was just a kid and was captivated by the story and her character and relationship with Mr. Rochester. Who doesn’t love a tragic love story and it makes for great drama on stage.

Other interests besides singing:

Other interests are your typical diva interests such as membership in TAQ (thinking about quilting), ballroom dancing, telling Renovian tales, etc. Those things are far more interesting than the accounting that I do for a living!


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