For one little girl, it all started with a Master Class.
Former Florida Southern College professor of Voice and Opera John Thomasson was at the Harrison School for the Arts to work with budding high schoolers, and he forever changed the life of one young girl.
“He was so super inspiring to me,” beamed Kimberly Milton, a 2011 graduate of FSC. “I was a young girl with a little voice, and he saw me and saw such great potential.”
Kimberly always had a musical slant to her, performing in the youth band as a saxophone player. But in the fifth grade, she had a transformational moment. “I saw the movie Selena, and I just knew I was meant to sing.”
At the age of 14, she saw her first real opera, Carmen. The show opened her eyes to the art form that is opera, which was foreign to her at the time. Growing up in Lakeland, she was never exposed to it. But Carmen propelled her forward, and she knew that she had found her calling.
Professor Thomasson left such an impact on Kimberly that, as she graduated from the Harrison School for the Arts, she knew that Florida Southern was the next step on her journey. Kimberly knew that she would receive hands-on experiential learning and the opportunity to get on stage. More importantly, Professor Thomasson was here to nurture her and develop this small voice.
“I was so nervous,” Kimberly admitted, remembering her days at FSC. “The anxiety was bad, but I knew I needed to get beyond that.”
As she developed her mezzo soprano voice, Thomasson was right there with her.
Upon graduation from FSC, she would move on to Valdosta State, earning her master’s degree in Vocal Performance. Years later, she would reconnect with Thomasson – in Austria.
Thomasson invited his former pupil to Europe to study opera in a different setting. Living in the same cities as so many master opera composers and performers, Kimberly entered a competition at Mozarteum University in Salzburg, and won. In the summer of 2019, she performed with the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz. Performing at such a high level gave her the confidence she needed.
Currently, Kimberly is back in Lakeland, and serves as the Musical Director at All Saints Episcopal Church. She will offer a special performance at All Saints on May 1.