By Deepti Paikray
New York the city where all is possible. With its grid of avenues and streets, looming skyscrapers, bobs of yellow taxis and frenetic denizens juggling several roles in a day the city inspires and nurtures artists. One such artist is 33-year-old Claire Khodara, a professional singer for 15 years. Her zone is pop, jazz and she lights up when singing within a church. Her career highs comprise of singing for two popes at the Vatican in Rome and going far as a contestant in American Idol season 9.
Before I add another and, I must mention that Claire is a stunner at 5’11 with brown hair and gravity defying cheekbones that need a ladder to peer into her chestnut brown eyes. She is all glam as I catch her in a pause of a busy day for a talk on an artist’s life, a women’s life, money issues, recycling, planet earth and how the string of meditation ties up all the tugs and pulls of her life. She believes family and marriage to be sacred and admits to her artists journey” as a long road, a really long uncertain road……” but to be awake and aware to her choices , working hard and making it happen is how she is continuing to discover a wonderful world at her doorstep .
From Pennsylvania to Rome
Born in Pennsylvania, Claire sang before she learnt to speak. A nurturing family of artist parents, two siblings, music mentors at school and a defining moment at age 10 when she heard Maria Carey belt out songs from her 1995 album Daydream propelled Claire to step into her role as a professional singer on the universe’s stage. Raised as a catholic she learnt to play the piano and write her own songs, realized no one is nervous for oneself except our own selves and sang in the choir to revel in the feeling of multiple voices singing in glorious unison together. After graduating Claire moved to Rome at age 18 and enrolled in the Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, to train under world-renowned opera singer Renata Scotto. It is here Claire had the surreal, incredible experience of singing at the Vatican for the pope’s weekly benediction for two years to a crowd of 60,000 people. In her words “God sang through me in those moments.”
However, parallelly she was also living a wildlife and doing things that endangered her life. The reckless enormity of those days interjects a remorse tinged lull in our talk. She looks back at the experience as crazy, totally not necessary and yet in a curious way it shaped her to become responsible and heedful of the choices she would now make.
Marriage, birthing a child and a production company
Claire returned from Rome to Philadelphia to pursue academic career at Temple University’s music program. Alongside she auditioned for American idol season 9, went far and basked in its after success by singing at weddings and the national anthem at happening sports circuits of New York. There was plentiful singing, abundant appreciation, good money but oodles of uncertainty too. In Claire’s words “you can’t just make money by being a good singer and expecting the world to come and discover you.” However, an ever-listening universe whom she croons out to had heard her songful yearning for a mysterious beloved and thus entered her to be husband Gregory. They met in London and he advised her to start her own events company and begin booking music for events.
The greatest achievement come out of necessity is what her pragmatic husband always tells her. Claire could feel her career stabilizing that freed her as an artist. She got booked for a residency at Art’s Club an exclusive club in London where big stars like Prince and Adele played. Adulation followed in numerous other prestigious clubs but pressing family needs prompted her husband to move back to New York to take over the family real estate business. That was ten years ago and now Claire is a mother of a two-year-old and eight months pregnant. She sings regularly at the Annabel’s in London and has recently launched a series of singles worldwide.
She is a known face in New York social scenes and can be heard weekly on @stationhead interviewing fellow musicians. Her booking agency STARROCK PRODUCTIONS books almost 100 shows in a year at London and New York and to quote her “I am happiest being my own manager. I love getting to know people because through them, I get to know myself”. Above all, she is grateful to her husband for seeing her for who she is.
Glancing back looking forward
I ask Claire how the past and the future’s dreams confluent at her present. She takes a long breath and talks,” The only antidote to living an uncertain but enriching life of an artist is perseverance. Having my family who believes in me, saving wisely and a positive attitude are the other three pillars that keep me grounded in an ever-changing scenario.” Meanwhile on days of doubt she relies on lots of coffee, sleep and meditation knowing that tomorrow will be a day of fresh possibilities. Ten years hence she hopes to continue to build her events company to a worldwide enterprise, continue her art of song, and have more kids.
While on kids, her voice drops to a whisper as painful memories rake up. Facing a long bout of infertility, the doctors gave her the prognosis of a massive invasive surgery. By now she had learnt to listen to all beings, question all and trust her own intuition. Few months later she was pregnant with the help of an acupuncturist and an energy healer. She wants her kids to grow up in a world of empathetic communication amongst communities and culture. She adds “I do not seek fame for in today’s world fame is no accident, yet singer is who I am and how I communicate with the world. “So, the settings can be Shoreditch House in London, the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel NY, or the serene environs of a church all Claire Khodara wants is to sing songs that convey love, healing and peace to the world.