Newton graduate Angela Parrish featured in Oscar-nominated hit

Performs as first solo voice in opening number of musical film “La La Land”



Parrish performs in a Las Vegas show with songwriter Paul Williams in the summer of 2016. Currently, Parrish is working on a full length record, filming a national commercial, and displaying her talent for GRAMMY Week in Los Angeles.

Michaela Regier, Sports Editor

Since its release on Dec. 17 of last year, the musical film La La Land has won four Golden Globes, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and been nominated for 14 Oscars, tying the record for most Oscar nominations. The musical, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is a hit all across America and is a hit in Newton thanks to performer, Angela Parrish. She is heard as the first solo voice in La La Land and is in three of the film’s 40 person choirs.

“[This is my] first big film but also my first film period. I’ve never done anything prior to this so it’s kind of crazy to have this be my first, Parrish said.

The singer-songwriter graduated from Newton in 2004 before receiving her bachelor’s degree in Jazz Piano Performance and Special Music Education from Wichita State University and Master’s degree in Jazz Piano Performance from the University of Northern Colorado. Parrish moved to Los Angeles, Calif. to pursue a career as a performer and in 2015, put out her own record “Faithful and Tall”. She performs six nights a week and got the reference for the film from her drummer, who has an in at Lionsgate.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to work with a high profile Hollywood director before so I think everything was kind of different about it. There was a lot of pressure but not a negative kind of pressure. They were very nice to work with but I felt an internal pressure to do well because it was such a high profile opportunity,” Parrish said. “I probably put in 25 hours of rehearsal outside of doing the show so if my minute and a half of just vocal took 30-40 hours, think of all the years of hard work put into this film. It’s incredible thinking of the time commitment a film of this caliber takes. It was definitely a learning experience.”

With a ‘Newsweek’ article and the popularity of the film, Parrish is hoping this experience helps expand her career. She is very proud of the film and believes that she would not be at this point in her career without her friends and mentors.

“Through my whole life I’ve had an amazing group of friends. I’ve had great musical mentors too who push me to go pursue things. I’ve had a great mentor out here named Mark Winkler, who pushed me to never give up. I would say that my jazz piano professor Dana Landry in Colorado also did the same thing [and] the person that made me want to do music in the first place was Keith Woolery,” Parrish said.

Parrish has known Newton band and jazz instructor Keith Woolery since she was a little girl as a family friend.

“When I saw potential was when she was in this room, playing piano in jazz one. She was very dedicated to what she was doing in school… She was very talented and a lot of talented kids there. At that time singing was pretty second art for her. Piano was her main thing. She was up for a challenge. She and I talked a lot for what she should be doing with her future. There was a lot of very driven kids then. Some of those kids have had a number one hit on the billboard charts under the category of jazz. They were a lot of them that have done big things so she was with a good group of kids that all fed off of each other musically,” Woolery said.

Parrish is happy with her career and where she is headed. She relates to the film as a performer and pushes others to follow their dreams, a main theme of La La Land.
“If [music] is the thing that you love more than anything in the world and if the thing that you really, really want is to be a full time musician, than you should do it. You owe it to yourself that least try because I promise you, no matter what, if you don’t go for it a little bit, you’ll regret it,” Parrish said.

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