Soprano Christina Cullers Sees God’s Design in Her Singing
By Doug Carroll
GCU Today Magazine
It’s hard to imagine Christina Cullers ever sounding “like a dead horse,” but that’s how she says last summer began for her.
Cullers, who graduated from Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production last May, was just starting an intensive, two-week OperaWorks program in Los Angeles in June when she was thrown for a loop by a vocal nodule that temporarily ruined her beautiful soprano.
The doctor’s prescription: no singing or talking. Even with those severe restrictions, she stayed on at OperaWorks.
“I had to learn to communicate without the use of my voice,” says Cullers, 22, who was GCU’s Musician of the Year for the 2011-12 academic year. “I learned a ton without singing, about the emotional and physical freedom that leads to vocal freedom.”
After she had healed sufficiently to sing again, she headed off to Zwickau, Germany, for three weeks at the Schumann Liederfest, another program for young artists with career potential. She received private coaching and took classes on diction and vocal interpretation, and during her stay she visited the church in Leipzig where Johann Sebastian Bach had been the organist and Martin Luther had been a choirboy.
She also performed for the Germans, an experience that was both nerve-wracking and exhilarating.
“You’re singing their music, in their language, and that’s the awesome thing,” Cullers says. “You can see them listening to you, and you realize this is their heritage.”
The little girl whose big voice used to turn heads before she was even a teenager (“I would just bust out singing”) has auditioned for master’s degree music programs at Arizona State University, the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. In the meantime, she is training with GCU’s Dr. Sheila Corley and working part time as an instructor with the Arizona Girlchoir.
Cullers says her study as an undergraduate with Corley, who has a sterling reputation as a voice coach, was “the best thing to ever happen to me,” providing a level of instruction and mentoring that she couldn’t have received elsewhere.
“For every student, there’s a right teacher, and she was that teacher for me,” says Cullers, who grew up in Phoenix not far from the GCU campus. “It was a God-ordained match.
“She invests in her students so much that it even breaks down her health. She’s a seasoned teacher and a godly woman who wants her students to be stewards of the gifts God has given them.”
Cullers says she isn’t sure where her career path will lead, adding that she’s looking to God for guidance. At GCU, she broadened her horizons with leading roles in Ethington Theatre productions of “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” a one-act opera, and “The Boy Friend,” a musical. Her senior recital, performed in the magnificent surroundings of Trinity Cathedral in central Phoenix, was spectacular.
“It could be that God has a career for me so that I can be an influence and a light to others,” Cullers says. “Theatre and opera can be dark places, with people who are broken and need God. … If God pushes, I will follow. I want to be onstage only if that is where God has called me to be a witness.”
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].