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PeopleFreya Morgan

Freya Morgan

‘Music has always played an important role in my family especially with my dad’s side having come from the Welsh valleys. My grandad was the son of a miner and brought up in South Wales where rugby and singing were at the centre of the community. My grandad followed both passions, eventually playing rugby for London Welsh and singing baritone in a Welsh male voice choir. He was a regular churchgoer and enjoyed nothing more than belting out his Sunday morning hymns. Working-life later brought him to Sidmouth where he married and had three sons.
After working abroad, my dad returned to the UK, settling in the South East where he met my mum. I was born in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire in December 2001 but shortly after, when I was eight weeks old, we moved to Uplyme where my parents had bought Hook Farm Caravan and Camping Park. It was a complete change of lifestyle for my mum but my dad had ‘come home’, having grown up in Sidmouth. I had the best childhood growing up on the campsite. My parents worked long hours but my brother and I had a lot of freedom and we’d often make friends who would come back year after year for holidays.
As a young child I was very shy. I was often in my own little world, singing or dancing around the garden, but in public I would always hide behind my mum to avoid talking to anyone. My grandparents suggested that I try theatre school to strengthen my confidence so, aged six, I joined Stagecoach Performing Arts. From that point, I knew that performing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My grandparents were my biggest fans and they came to every performance with flowers in hand. Theatre school didn’t eradicate my shyness completely but I found a way to hide it by putting myself into another character’s shoes. Shortly after that, whilst still at primary school, I was cast in my first main role, that of Alice in our Year 6 production of “Alice in Wonderland”. I loved every minute of it.
Aged 11, I was attending a local theatre school, ‘Back to Broadway’, where I was cast as Galinda in our production of ‘Wicked’. The singing coach, Anna Gregory, who trained with the English National Opera, suggested that I start private lessons to build my technique and I have received classical training from her ever since. During this time, I have accomplished grade 8 London College of Music (Musical Theatre) and am currently working towards grade 8 ABRSM (singing).
Unfortunately, as my grandparents aged they both developed Alzheimer’s dementia, meaning that they were no longer able to come and watch me perform. However, much to my embarrassment, when we went to visit my parents always showed them videos of my performances as they still loved to hear me sing. My grandad’s personal favourite was ‘Ave Maria’ which I often used to sing to him in their living room. He always believed in me and wanted to see me achieve my dreams one day.
Theatre school has helped my confidence grow over the years because when I’m on stage, playing a character, I don’t need to worry about myself. However, singing in front of people as myself, was still a big fear as I felt a huge amount of vulnerability. Knowing this, in 2017 some family friends invited me to sing at their summer wedding reception. It was a brilliant experience and I was very grateful for the opportunity. Then, in October of that year, Anna and I organised a recital of classical and musical theatre songs in aid of charity which I performed with another student of her’s in Uplyme church. We donated all the money to ‘The Project’, an adolescent mental health charity; a cause close to my heart. As a result of this, I was invited to sing at a Remembrance Day centenary concert organised by the local branch of the Royal British Legion. It was an honour to sing ‘We’ll Meet Again’ to veterans and their families.
In the spring term of year 11, I was asked to sing at The Woodroffe School’s annual Senior Award Ceremony and I was given a free song choice. Knowing that pupils from years 10, 11 and Sixth Form, as well as parents and teachers would be in the audience, my first thought was a popular ballad, maybe something by Adele. I was hesitant about singing anything classical since that genre of music doesn’t necessarily conform to the stereotypes of my generation and I just wasn’t sure how my peers would react to it. However, I wasn’t comfortable singing a pop song either as I haven’t been taught those certain techniques. So, I settled on a ‘light’, well known classical piece; ‘The Prayer’ by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. I had been in pressure situations before and I had performed in front of big audiences, having danced at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, but I can honestly say that I have never been so nervous in my life as that night in the school’s Sports Hall. Despite my ‘mild’ concerns, the feedback I received from the teachers, parents and especially my peers, was amazing and my confidence grew so much more.
The following year Woodroffe staged a performance of ‘School of Rock’ in which I was cast as Rosalie Mullins, the headteacher; this was to be my last musical at the school. We performed it in July after six months of rehearsals. It was the most amazing experience working alongside over 100 members of cast and crew who were just as dedicated as one another. It was the best possible way that I could have ended my time at Woodroffe and I will never forget it.
Last February, I staged another two recitals with a classically trained friend of mine, one at St Peter’s church in Shaftesbury and the other at the St Peters & St Pauls in Uplyme. By this point, we had raised over £3000 in total for charity.
The following month I was due to stay in London for two weeks, having been offered a place on a course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Unfortunately, three days before I was due to leave, my grandad passed away. Of course, it was a very difficult time for my family and I found it especially hard leaving so soon after when all I wanted to do was to be there for my dad. I was allowed to leave the course a day early to come home for grandad’s funeral. The service was beautiful and I sang ‘The Prayer’ in the church which I know would have made him very happy. It was also the first time my extended family had heard me sing formally. As I sat in that church and listened to my dad and my uncle talk about his life, I realised just how brave and inspirational grandad had been to so many people. Coming from such a humble life in South Wales, he had built his success from next to nothing. He had been the heart and soul of the family and had done as much as he could to provide the best opportunities for all of us. From that day, I decided I wanted to make him proud and continue his legacy by achieving as much as I could in the performing industry.
Music is incredibly powerful and has the ability to bring people together, but there have been times when I have felt very low and insecure about my voice. However, as mum always reminds me, I’m very lucky to have been given this gift. Last September I was invited to join the music and enterprise charity ‘B Sharp’ as a trainee music leader. This has given me the opportunity to break down the stigma attached to classical music by showing young people that it can be enjoyed and performed by anyone. I also want to use it positively to give other young people more confidence in themselves and hopefully inspire them to pursue their own path.
Having now finished Sixth Form, I am taking a break from education. I want to gain as much experience as I can using my skills in acting and classical singing and eventually I hope to go to drama school. But in the meantime, I plan to offer singing at weddings and other special events and to perform in as many theatre productions as possible. These are difficult times for all of us but my parents tell me to be patient, work hard, and allow my dream to unfold when the time is right.’

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