Tomara Conrad, our local nightingale from the Sloan’s Lake area, is heading for stardom. Those of us who have been graced with her sultry sounds of soul-sister, torch singers like Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee, are both proud and lucky to have “known her when.” This 17-year-old graduated in two years from Wheatridge High School, with a long line of A’s. Her “A” for ambition pushed her to focus on an early graduation to perfect the craft that she is passionate about.
Her earliest Denver performances were at Gina Hartley’s Edgewater Coffee Company. There she was known as “The Singing Barista.” A regular customer, Dale, kept her in the news by videotaping and posting YouTube songs of her engagements at the coffee house. As fate would have it, the Rachel Ray show picked up on this young rising star in an episode showcasing “real people” who whistled when they worked, so to speak. Singing janitors, construction workers and baristas had a “sing-off” and Tomara, age 15, took home the first place prize.
Other gigs followed, from family parties to North High to regular appearances at Belmar and the GB Fish & Chips restaurant. She connected to a concern near and dear to her heart, The Blue Star Connection, an organization that provides musical instruments to children with severe diseases, performing at their fundraising benefits. She even made it to the biggest floor stage of all, singing the National Anthem for the Colorado Rapids.
To make it to the top, she hired a voice coach, Jennifer Hix. Grounded in opera, Hix has worked tirelessly with the young chanteuse. Tomara credits her, “The growth I have had with Jennifer has been tremendous. I have done tons of gigs and not lost my voice. She is like another mom to me. Her way of teaching and technical help with breathing, and maintaining my voice, has been an enormous help. I would recommend her to anyone that wants to pursue singing.”
Her voice lessons paid off when she was noticed by the television series, “The Voice.” After two years of rehearsals, top-secret auditions, endless nights in Burbank hotels, callbacks, and pre-filming she made it to the final blind auditions. “The last step before being televised is to get into the Blind Auditions. But, there are only a set number of spots as contestants are chosen over a period of time. My friend, Paulina Cerrilla, made the last spot on the show and she was right before me. It was a bittersweet moment because we went through it all together, but it was still a wonderful experience.”
Although Tomara could have gone back for another round of “The Voice”, she was lucky enough to be connected with Jeff Blue. He has dedicated his career to artist development resulting in 130 Million record sales worldwide. His company, Rock Shop Music Group, focuses on writing and producing for major artists as well as artist development and management. He has discovered, and made famous, familiar voices like Macy Gray, Linkin Park, Daniel Powter, The Last Goodnight and Hoobestank.
Tomara is his latest coupe. His website http://www.rockshopmusicgroup.com announced her arrival. “17 year old “Tomara” hails from Wyoming. This soulful blonde haired songbird sings like Aretha Franklin with modern beats supplied by Grammy Award winner Justin Trugman. Tomara is currently in the studio with Justin & Jeff recording 3 new songs.”
As she spreads her wings and moves to the city of lights, Los Angeles, she is defining her new style, “I definitely have kept my soulfulness in my voice, because its something I can’t change, but we have also infused it with a ‘dance-ability’ factor to reach a younger audience. The blues have always been my center and where I get my ideas, but I have always wanted to appeal to the blues listeners, and broaden my audience. Jeff is helping me define that style.”
Tomara is thrilled to be moving to L.A., “I love everything about the city. I love being surrounded by people, the weather, the vibe, the food, the dressing up. I know that I will be working constantly and that I don’t have much down time, but I like my life that way. When I come back to Wyoming I relax, but I can only take so much relaxing. When your dreams are so big it’s kind of scary to think of where it will end up. The way things are going I don’t think anything will slow down.”
In spite of the speed, she is taking everything one day at a time. She reflects on her biggest lessons learned in her short, skyrocketing life, “You can’t take anything to heart. People will criticize and judge; people will love you and hate you, but at the end of the day, I know who I am and who I want to be, and that I am a good person. You have to remain you, and surround yourself with people you trust.”
For Tomara that person is, first and foremost, her mother, Kathy Conrad. “My mom is 100% involved in every aspect of the business. She manages me every step of the way. I am extremely lucky to have her. Half of what has happened is because of her. She is constantly motivating me. We’re best friends, and we have each other’s backs 24/7. It is a really good and healthy relationship, and I love it.” Aside from her mom, her grandmother, Sarah Conrad, the “unofficial mayor” of Edgewater, has championed her success with the beauty, enthusiasm and true grit that Tomara has inherited.
When asked where Tomara sees herself in five years time she exclaimed “With at least one Grammy Award in hand and my feet on center stage at Red Rocks.”
Although Tomara is “winding stuff down” in Denver, she will be performing her “Sloan’s Lake Swan Song” at several local venues in July. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear her sweet, sultry sounds. After all, she is here today, and gone Tomara.