“You have to be 100 percent”

Chloe McSwain pursues musical theater dreams


Chloe McSwain, 16, has known her path for a long time.

Chloe began pursuing musical theater at age 3, finding her inspiration from an unusual source; “Sesame Street”.

As McSwain watched opera singer Denise Graves sing to Elmo, she began imitating Graves’ vocals, even matching her vibrato. Atlanta Opera told Tiffany, Chloe’s mom, she was too young for opera, as she could damage her vocal chords.

Instead, they suggested musical theater, and McSwain has been absorbed with the performance ever since.

She even had the chance to perform the national anthem at the Braves game on July 15, the largest audience she’s performed for.

“It’s a great opportunity to perform in front of that big of an audience,” she said.

Additional highlights of McSwain’s musical career include performing at Carnegie Hall, on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and performing as Pocahontas at a charity event.

But according to McSwain, the one that stands out the most is performing with Kristin Chenoweth.

When Chenoweth performed a benefit concert for Arts Bridge, McSwain and a few others were invited to perform in a youth choir alongside her.

“That was pretty amazing,” Tiffany said. “Chloe’s loved and admired her since she was a little girl. It was a magical moment.”

In April, McSwain performed with Orbit Arts Academy in their production of “Crazy For You.” This summer, she has done two intensive courses with Broadway Dreams Foundation, where McSwain met and trained with Broadway stars.

But music isn’t McSwain’s entire life.

As a result of her busy schedule, McSwain has been enrolled in Georgia Cyber Academy since fourth grade.

“I like it because it gives me the flexibility to train and audition. My schedule can get pretty hectic at times. Doing online school definitely helps with that.”

She has been taking group voice practices, but plans to return to individual practices in anticipation for school auditions.

“I like to train at different places to get as much out of it as I can.”

McSwain said she plans to apply to University of Michigan and Carnegie Mellon, among others.

“For the next year, I’m really going to focus on my schoolwork and try to get an academic scholarship to a good musical theater college. I’m also going to train, get into private voice, dance and acting lessons.”

Tiffany said applying to college musical theater programs is more intensive than a traditional college application.

“You have to have a number of different songs and monologues and dance preparation for these auditions. You have to be competitive both academically and prepared for musical theater auditions.”

For young girls hoping to follow in McSwain’s footsteps, she said the best advice she could give is to be all in.

“If there’s something that you want to do just as much as musical theater, do the other thing. It’s a very hard business to get into, but if you love it and you work hard, you will make it. You have to be 100 percent.” ■


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