Casey J. Newman

Casey J. Newman is a classically trained mezzo-soprano and ukulelist currently based in central Florida. She will perform in the 9:05 p.m. EST show block on Friday, December 11 at the 2020 Very Normal Festival. In this spotlight interview, Newman talks about the challenges of musical performance over Zoom, her love of Japan, and what it’s like being one of the youngest people in The Villages.

We’re really, really excited that you’re performing with us this year! Can you tell us about the show you have planned? What can viewers expect to see?

Thank you! I’m really excited, too! I’ll be performing a short set of covers, just me and my ukulele. 

You’re a classically trained mezzo soprano, which is amazing. How is singing over Zoom different than singing in front of a live audience? Do you have to make any adjustments, from a technical perspective, to endure that you have the sort of show that you want to have?

It’s a new experience for me. I’m used to performing live in front of audiences. I’m still learning the tech, so, managing the levels by myself is a bit of a challenge. It can take focus away from vocal technique, especially since I’m also concentrating on playing. 

Playing in front of a live audience is great because you can see how well they’re responding, and how to play off them. That makes Zoom a whole new world for the performer.  

If we understand correctly, the ukulele is a relatively new instrument for you. What do you like about the ukulele? What do you find challenging about it?

Yes! This is the first show I’m doing accompanying myself on the ukulele! I love the ukulele’s unique sound. That is also part of the challenge of playing ukulele. They have a smaller body than guitars, for example, so it’s more difficult to produce a certain sound. 

We’ve gathered that you’re a big fan of Japan and Japanese culture. We are, too! What are some places that we should absolutely visit if and when From Justin to Kelly makes its first tour stop in Japan?

Kyoto and Osaka! Everything a Westerner wants to see from their image of traditional Japan is in Kyoto. Osaka is a metropolis with its own unique culture and the best food in Japan. You’ll also want to see nearby Nara, and Himeji, where my favorite castle is. I love Fukuoka, as well!

So, we gotta ask: What’s it like being one of the youngest residents of The Villages? What is one thing that you actually, sincerely enjoy about living there? (If the answer is “nothing,” well, then fair enough!)

Haha, that reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons that goes as follows: 

Exec: Each newspaper has a percentage of recycled paper.

Lisa: What percent?

Exec: (Smiles exec smile) Zero!

Lisa: (Grimaces)

Exec: What? Zero is a percent!

Finally — we are contractually obligated to ask this question — on an ascending scale from 1 to 10, how normal is your show and why?

Fairly normal! Although, I am playing the ukulele, and it’s me, so, I would give it a 7.