A York City resident who grew up in California, she recalls the moment singing became her dream. The touring production of the musical “The Wiz,” a “Wizard of Oz” adaptation highlighting African-American culture, stopped in Los Angeles in the late 1970s.
“I was a little girl, about 8 or 9. It was one of the only Broadway shows I ever saw,” she says in a recent phone interview. “Stephanie Mills was the leading actress. At that time, I had never seen anybody who looked like me (performing on stage). The theater was so huge, and so beautiful, and her voice filled the entire space.”
It was a transformative moment for Thompson. She begged her mother for voice lessons, and so began her vocal training. She sang in a variety of choirs as she grew, from high school to college to community choruses. But something always held her back: not a lack of talent, but a lack of confidence in herself.
“Life gets in the way or fear overtakes you,” she says. “You know that you can do something, but you're afraid that people won't like you, that they won't love it like you love it.”
In 2008, she seized the moment to perform a demanding operatic aria, the emotional Queen of the Night from “The Magic Flute.” The piece required hard work, courage and confidence in her abilities.
“When I sing it, it's amazing to me to think that I could execute something so gorgeous,” she says. “That God blessed me with a voice that makes beautiful noise.”
Her personal relationship with God inspires Thompson to make the most of her vocal gift. She dreams of studying in Italy and singing soprano in a full operatic production.
“When I do everything right, and it sounds great, that's the time when I feel closest to God,” she says.
Concert: She'll share that feeling with her audience Saturday, Feb. 2, at a concert titled “From Ella to Leontyne” at the Woman's Club of York.
“Opera's not everybody's piece of cake,” Thompson says as she describes the musical pieces for the show. “I love jazz as well, and Ella (Fitzgerald) is awesome.”
With accompaniment from jazz pianist Kirk Reese, Thompson will deliver a concert of jazz, R&B, Broadway and, yes, opera. She calls it “ a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful evening,” but it's a special one for another reason.
“It'll be great to sing and celebrate my birthday,” she says. Her relatives will be coming in from around the country to share in the show and the birthday reception following. She hopes the audience, too, will take away something more from the concert than just the beautiful music.
“I want them to know it is never too late to pursue a dream that they have. When you start moving toward whatever the thing is that you love, that thing starts moving closer to you, too,” she says. “You feel fulfilled, you feel alive, you feel there is possibility in the world.”
Much like one little girl did all those years ago watching “The Wiz.”
See the showVocalist Mylea Thompson and pianist Kirk Reese will present “From Ella to Leontyne,” a winter concert featuring diverse musical styles, at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Woman's Club of York, 228 E. Market St. A wine and cheese reception will follow the concert.
Tickets are $35 per person or $60 per couple.
For more information, visit www.myleathompson.com or call (717) 542-4908.
— Reach Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.