The cast of CODA
The cast of CODA

A Podcast Conversation With ... Elaine Overholt

When the small budget film CODA received a Best Picture nod at the recent Oscars awards show, there was not only cause for celebration but also acknowledgement this was the first streamed release to win in the coveted category. Also, the fact Toronto’s ‘vocal coach to the stars’ Elaine Overholt was at the centre of another trophy night, the first in 2008 when the musical Chicago with Queen Latifah, Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger took home the coveted award.

I, like so many, wouldn’t have an inkling of CODA’s existence if it were not for Elaine’s recommendation, which brought me to the set of the Netflix series Locke & Key this past summer - a minor part body/hand double role subbing for actor Kevin Durand.

During lulls, a key actor, Emilia Jones, would remove an acoustic guitar from its case and, in a relaxed tone, sing a bit of Etta James, Joni Mitchell and others. To these ears, it sounded like the early days when coffee houses lined the boulevards of Yorkville in Toronto. A voice, sweet, soulful, and accomplished.

Both Kevin and Elaine pointed out this was actress Emilia Jones and her starring role in CODA, as they remarked, “would win the Oscar.” Bold prediction! I took it in stride yet understood comments from these two professionals were as good as gold.

As with most who witnessed the debacle Oscar night - the horror of the moment, having follow-up awardee and director Questlove defrauded of his moment of glory for Best Doc for Summer of Soul—a film FYI has been lauding since an early preview – the same for CODA. Oh, how I wish we could rewind that episode and erase the stain of the moment.

I cornered Elaine, recognizing she’d be willing to share her thoughts and insights. This is our podcast of the week.

More on Elaine Overholt:

Elaine’s gift for teaching is well known in Hollywood and Broadway. She has coached stars such as John Travolta, Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer for Hairspray, the movie, along with Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, and Queen Latifah for the Oscar-winning Chicago. Recently Elaine also coached Ellen DeGeneres in two live segments on her hit talk show. Other singer/clients include Jim Cuddy, Alannah Myles, Jully Black, Max Kerman (Arkells), Sophie Milman, Jackie Richardson, Megan Fox, and Colin Mochrie.

As a Broadway coach, Elaine trained the singers in lead roles for hits like Hairspray, The Producers‘, Mamma Mia, The Sound Of Music, Once, Kinky Boots, and so many shows of Mirvish Productions. Andrew Lloyd Webber chose her to be the vocal coach and judge on the CBC series How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria’ Although she has worked with some of the most musically talented of a generation, she also brings out the best from those who are not known for their musical talents. Comedians, actors, dancers and speakers come to Elaine to find their hidden performance prowess. On her TV series Big Voice (OWN Network), Elaine took gifted but ‘untried’ singers, put them in a 6-week boot camp, culminating in their “dream” performance. She relished working with the world-class dancers of The National Ballet & The San Francisco Ballet on their productions of West Side Story Suite.

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