Chapman Alum and Opera Singer Ashley Faatoalia On His Music Career

Chapman alum (’06) Ashley Faatoalia has showcased his tenor tones at opera houses around the world—and released a pop album
Photograph by Emily J. Davis

What have been some highlights of your career?
Definitely singing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion the first time. I grew up seeing the LA Phil with my mom, so to be on that stage was profound. Singing the anthem at Dodger Stadium. Singing at the Sydney Opera House. Joining The Industry, an experimental opera company. Getting a phone call from Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin?
I missed her call. I listened to the message and almost dropped my phone. Then she called back, and I jumped on it. I just idolized her. She was considering a label of classical music at the time. It didn’t end up happening, but it showed me I was on the right path.

How did you get into classical singing?
My grandmother was a professional singer with Capitol Records, and she was an inspiration to me. I was obsessed with contemporary music. I did musical theater in high school, and my teacher said, “Ash, you can sing all these different genres, but the best idea is to learn the foundational technique.” So I studied voice at Chapman. And I began my formal operatic training with Dr. Peter Atherton.

What led to the pop album?
I had decided to be “serious” about classical singing and really focus on it. That served me well, but I never stopped loving contemporary music. So I got together with some friends and released “Extra” last year.

You recently did a virtual recital with your alma mater.
I got contacted by LA Opera, who I work with fairly regularly. My mentor and friend who is now an associate dean, Dr. Louise Thomas, accompanied me on piano. It was fun to get together after all these years.

Hear Him!
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