Lauren Davis is a woman who knows what she wants. Sarcastic and witty, but also quite guarded. She seems mysterious to those she encounters, but is a rising operatic star at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Davis grew up in Normal, Illinois, a town that could not be more aptly named if one were to write the story of a young artist who dreamed of breaking free from monotonous society by nurturing a unique talent. Surprisingly enough, Lauren had never even hummed a tune, let alone sung it, until high school (other than those shower-sessions most of us all still keep secret).
“I hadn’t really thought about it that much. The whole reason I started singing in the first place, or got into music at all, was because I didn’t want to be home-schooled,” Davis said.
Regarding her childhood, Davis will tell you that she spent a lot of time by herself reading book after book or playing Zelda on Nintendo 64. Her parents were together at this time. It was Davis’ younger, extroverted siblings who played with the neighborhood kids mostly. It didn’t help that her parents decided to home school Davis during her middle-school years, which left her with a burning desire to socialize and get involved in the world. By eighth grade, she finally had enough of her solitary education and decided to consider a public high school.
There were many high schools to pick from in Fort Myers, but Davis went for one of the most challenging. She auditioned to be accepted in to the vocal department at Cypress Lake High School’s Center for the Arts. According to Davis, her audition was not so much an “American Idol”-like performance, but more of a shot in the dark towards a possible future.
“I suck at drawing, I’m not very good with media, but I guess I have an OK shower voice. So sure, let’s audition for the voice department at Cypress,” Davis said.
While at Cypress, Davis tried many things and enjoyed her new, human-populated freedom. She was the pianist for the jazz band, swam on the varsity swim team and ran track and cross-country. She considered becoming one of the rare female conductors, but her talent for singing was what she decided to truly nurture.
After high school, Davis was accepted to the highly regarded music school at Stetson University in Deland. She stayed there for three years before transferring to FGCU, and by that time she already had sung lead roles in many historically renowned operatic performances nationally and internationally.
At Stetson, she thrived as a classically trained soprano singer, a role she would later determine was not fitting for her voice. Before that decision was made, she sang the title role in “Dvorák’s Rusalka,” and even travelled to Bulgaria to sing the lead in Puccini’s “Suor Angelica.” In her junior year, Davis won first place in the 2012 Concerto Competition at Stetson.
While her academic life was flourishing, her life back at home was going through turmoil. It suffices to say her father was financially comfortable and could adequately provide for his family. Mr. Davis was the financial adviser for a well-established mining equipment company. Tragically however, after her parents divorced a year prior, her father ended his life in June 2013 a couple of weeks after Davis was beginning her summer vacation leading up to her senior year at Stetson.
Dark times fell, and among the tremendous emotional pressure an incident like this would have on a young woman, his aid was the lynch pin in Davis’ financial requirements at Stetson. She had many scholarships and grants, but those alone barely covered half of the tuition and living expenses needed to attend school there. After getting over much discomfort, Lauren decided to attend school closer to home at FGCU.
At FGCU she realized a slightly lower-pitched role as a mezzo-soprano soloist was a far more fitting and comfortable role than the soprano act, in which many young girls are permanently pigeonholed by ambitious vocal professors. This change, and the new environment that Davis found at the Bower School of Music at FGCU, gave her velvety vocals fertile ground to flourish. In her first semester she sang as a soloist in Mozart’s “Mass in C Minor.” She also sang the role of Dido in “Dido and Aeneas,” the historically renowned masterpiece by Henry Purcell.
A year and many more performances later, she is now finishing her bachelor of arts in voice performance here at FGCU and is currently auditioning for positions in intensive summer programs all over the country. She has already been accepted and will be singing as a studio artist with Opera in the Ozarks this summer.
You can catch Lauren at “A Night at the Opera” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 in U. Tobe Recital Hall in the Bower School of Music at FGCU.