The First Voice You Hear in ‘La La Land’ is a Northern Colorado Grad
If you saw La La Land, the Oscar-nominated film that throws us back to cinemascope and Gene Kelly-era musicals, you remember that opening scene where the Los Angeles freeway is packed full of people ready to burst out into a beautiful song and dance number.
What you probably don't know is that the voice you hear singing the first lines of the song-- "I thought about that day/ I left him at a Greyhound station west of Santa Fe..." (full song included below)-- is not the dancer you see mouthing the words but rather Angela Parrish, a University of Northern Colorado graduate.
According to Newsweek, "Parrish majored in jazz piano at Wichita State and then got her master’s in the same specialty at the University of Northern Colorado." She then had the opportunity to go to China but it fell through, which led her to Los Angeles.
Parrish was a singer and talented piano player who, like Ryan Gosling in the film, frequented supper clubs to make extra money in the evenings. When a friend of hers, a trumpeter, found out there was an audition for a singer for the film, she jumped in.
Newsweek quotes Steven Gizicki, the movie's music supervisor, who mentions wanting a singer and a dancer for the opening scene, but "we had already found our dancer. There was also a time element pressing up on us." So Parrish got the part-- but vocals only.
Despite the fact that we don't actually see Parrish in the film, it's awesome to see this particular success story come out of UNC, and you can bet we'll be applauding Parrish every time we hear those opening lines to 'Another Day of Sun'. La La Land is currently nominated for 14 Oscars.
The University of Northern Colorado has a variety of jazz programs available in their music school, including focuses on big bands, vocals, jazz combos, and more. While we can't guarantee you'll end up like Parrish if you're studying jazz in Northern Colorado, it's obvious you'll get somewhere-- and if you work hard enough to get noticed, you will.