by Kevin Panizza - photos courtesy of the Johnson Family
Summer Johnson was unusually shy, even for a 3-year-old. Her parents Erika and Tyler Johnson noticed that at home or around her immediate family members she could be a constant stream of “why” questions and Disney songs, but around even familiar faces from outside her circle she would immediately withdraw, avoid all eye contact, and only communicate through her parents or older brother.
One day Erika met Katie Parker on a family beach day at Riviera. Katie told her about the group she had started whose mission was to inspire young girls to develop confidence through song and dance.
“It sounded great, but I wasn’t sure that she would come out of her shell enough to be worth our time,” Erika explained. “It was free to try a class so I took her that next week. When she got in the car after her first practice, she was so excited about the music and dancing and the friends she had made, I signed her up and then watched her blossom over the semester.”
“We first noticed the change when we watched her during rehearsals. She no longer exhibited her normal shyness,” her dad, Tyler, added. “Then we noticed the change in her regular interactions all around. I felt like other people finally got to know the spunky little girl that I knew already.”
“I was so thrilled with the results, I immediately decided to become involved,” commented Erika.” By the following semester, Mrs. Johnson was teaching the weekly class, which, this fall, due to demand, she will be expanding to a second local group.
“Before I had kids of my own I earned a degree in education and taught science. Singers Company has not only helped my daughter, but has helped me continue to pursue my passion for teaching in a way I had never imagined,” Erika said.
The Company is Formed
Katie Parker started Singers Company in 2011 as an alternative to the traditional competition dance experience. She traded out things like auditions and intensive rehearsal schedules for an all-inclusive environment, and devoted 20 minutes of every hour-long class for each girl’s individual sharing. Her goal was lofty-to change the world.
“Singers Company is all about helping young girls find their voice and building confidence,” says Parker, “because confident girls can change the world.”
Since those early days in her garage, Singers Company has expanded to over 50 groups from Alaska to New Jersey and Hawaii to Florida. Each semester starts with a new theme, music, and choreography from Broadway tunes to 1950s doo-wop to the ever popular Christmas show. Girls spend each week practicing songs and dance steps and learning to positively interact with their peers.
“My daughter is excited each week to learn the new songs, see the friends she has made, and share,” delights one of the moms, Sheri Madrid. “Share” is the portion of each class dedicated to giving each girl an opportunity to open up to the group about something she cares about.
“Each week every girl has a chance to present in front of the entire class,” explains Johnson, “It’s the real secret to the magic of the Singers Company.” At the end of each semester the girls take their show on the road and perform, in costume, at various gatherings around the community. The performances are capped off with the final friends and family performance, where after a semester of preparation, they get to show off their new skills, routines, and confidence to their often amazed parents.
“Seeing these girls blossom in front of my eyes is a real joy, but almost as satisfying is to see their parents experience the same thing I did when we first put our daughter in the group,” affirms Erika Johnson.
Parents Reveal their Experiences
“My five-year old daughter, Piper, truly found her ‘voice’ at Singer’s Company. It’s a joyful spot in her week, where she gets to express herself creatively, connect with her peers, and gain confidence. Piper has developed great pride, not only in herself but also in her ‘girls,’” says Christine Mudd.
“My sweet shy daughter, Lily, has blossomed into a confident performer. After being diagnosed with moderate asymmetric hearing loss, we were concerned about her love of singing and performing. This program has given her a voice and the confidence to perform in front of a crowd and to sing loudly with passion! She has overcome her stage fright, has made new friends, and believes in herself and her talents. Our family loves this program as we see first-hand the positive impact it has on our daughter,” observed Katie Waldron.
Singers Company is a national organization with two groups in the San Clemente area, one that meets in Talega and another that serves coastal San Clemente and Capo Beach.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved, visit BeachCities.SingerCompany.com or facebook.com/beachcitiessingersco.