Singer’s Debut EP Due Out Soon
By Sally Deering
She got the call, and an hour later opera singer Giselle Bellas of Jersey City was in Avatar Studios in Manhattan working out a song with Louis C.K. for the 5th episode of his Peabody and Emmy Award winning TV Show LOUIE (Thursdays, 10:30 pm, FX). Louis C.K. sang the lyrics he wrote into an iPhone and left Giselle to collaborate with his band SweetPro, which does all the original music for the series. The result: Giselle sang a haunting tune called “Diarrhea” that plays over the episode’s losing credits.
Since that fateful call made by Giselle’s producer Adam Tilzer, who is also the sound engineer on LOUIE, Giselle has turned in performances on six LOUIE episodes collaborating with Louis C.K. and SweetPro and singing tunes that show off her vocal versatility, 4-octave range and sense of humor.
“I did all the female vocals for the show,” Giselle says on a coffee break at a Jersey City bagel shop. “For one scene, I had to scream ‘Why? Why?’ over and over in the style of a French woman.”
Classically trained, Giselle began her music studies when she was a kid growing up in Orlando, Florida, with her single mom who raised her on a waitress’s earnings, taking extra jobs to keep food on the table and music in Giselle’s life.
“She sold clothing out of her car so she could buy me a piano,” Giselle says.
That sacrifice seems to have paid off big time. Given a full opera scholarship, Giselle attended the Music Conservatory at the New World School of the Arts in Miami. She performed solo at Carnegie Hall and then transferred from the New World School to The New School in Manhattan where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature.
Her opera credits include roles in HANSEL AND GRETEL, DON GIOVANNI, L’ELISIR D’AMORE, LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, L’AMICO FRITZ, and LA BOHÈME. That was back when Giselle had set her sights on an opera career, performing all the great lyric soprano parts in opera houses all over the world. She even held a job at the Met gift shop in Manhattan hunting down obscure opera recordings for customers while soaking up the opera scene
“I was surrounded by opera,” Giselle says. “I would go backstage and watch performances. But opera took away my swagger. It is a very rigid world and I felt I was never good enough.”
Giselle decided to break from the constraints of the opera world when during an audition, she was grilled more about her blue nail polish than her work as a singer. When Giselle started recording music for the LOUIE show, her singing career took a different trajectory, she says, and the experience helped her regain her swagger.
“I call it my music evolution,” Giselle says. “I’m a little more ‘ballsy’ now.”
That ‘ballsiness’ includes collaborating with members of SweetPro and recording her own music; Giselle’s debut EP comes out soon. Community-minded, she volunteers with the Jersey City Youth Foundation and has sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” at several events sponsored by the Jersey City Mayor’s Office. Recently, she made a non-exclusive agreement with Joma Music Group which will be promoting her songs to TV and film projects.
“They put songs on TV shows like ‘Scandal’,” Giselle says.
Will she be adding Season 6 of LOUIE to her fall schedule? It’s too soon to tell, she says. Still, fingers are crossed and hopes are high. She describes Louis C.K. as a sensitive genius and it seems her work on LOUIE has not only given her the opportunity to create with one of the greatest comics of our time, it inspired her to write and sing her own tunes far from the world of opera.
“(My songs) are Pop, but not Bubble Gum Pop,” Giselle says. “More like Pop with a message, like Leslie Gore’s ‘You Don’t Own Me’ and tunes by Adele and Peggy Lee. My songs are more like what Pop used to be.”
To learn more about Giselle, go to:
www.giselle.us; or visit her Facebook page.
You can also hear Giselle sing “Diarrhea” and other songs on YouTube.com