Claire Robinson: From Medicine to Music

For Claire Robinson, a senior music major from Pleasant Grove, deciding what she wanted to do for the rest of her life resulted in what closely resembled a midlife crisis, the only difference being that she was only 18.

A self-described “nerd,” Robinson accumulated a large number of AP science credits in high school, hoping to become a nurse. The summer before entering college, she realized that the best way she could help people was not through medicine, but through her music.

Robinson realized the importance of her voice by singing to her uncle and elderly grandmother.

“My uncle, who lived with us, would say that my singing was the best part of his day,” she said. “So I thought, ‘Well, people like my voice, so hopefully that means I’m good.’”

When she arrived at college, Robinson successfully auditioned for the music department despite her nerves. Robinson gives her high school choir teachers credit for the ability to nail the audition.

“I’d never taken voice lessons, I just did it in high school … I had really great teachers that did really great things that put me on my path,” Robinson said.

She started her college career as a music education major because she loved high school choir. When she came to SUU, she started competing and it gave her the confidence to perform and change her major to vocal performance. Robinson made it clear, however, that although she idolizes many opera stars’ voices, she does not idolize their behavior.

“There are a lot of people in the opera world that I look up to, but a lot of them are divas and I don’t want to be a diva,” she said. “I want the voice of a diva, just not the attitude.”

She said Broadway superstar Audra McDonald is a big inspiration to her. Robinson said McDonald is not only a great performer, but also a phenomenal person.

When it comes to her style of performing, Robinson takes inspiration from another star of the stage and screen, Kristin Chenoweth.

“I saw Kristin Chenoweth live and she is so diverse, but also a pleasure to be around as far as I can tell,” Robinson said. “She really connected with the audience, and that’s the kind of performer I want to be. I don’t want to do it for me, I want to do it for other people.”

She takes that connection with the audience very seriously.

“The greatest thing about being a vocalist is that I get words. I get all of these words that these great poets have written, and I get to sing them and that brings so much more emotion sometimes, and I feel lucky to have them,” Robinson said.

Robinson is looking forward to continuing her career here at SUU and preparing to audition for a study abroad program in Europe.

Story By
Lily Shurtleff for SUU News

Photo Courtesy of
Claire Robinson