Sometimes, having a case of multiple personalities can be a good thing.
That’s especially true for one multi-faceted young woman who has learned how to really work a crowd – starting with the one in her own body.
Mega-talented singing impressionist Veronic has been hearing voices for years, which is not surprising considering that she has 80 to 100 personas living inside her. But these days, performing “Veronic Voices” in the Jubilee Theater at Bally’s Las Vegas, she is proof positive that carrying all that extra weight only makes her one of the most well-rounded performers on the Las Vegas Strip. And, ultimately, it is her audiences that end up “cracking up” at her right-on impressions of the world’s most beloved female songstresses.
“It’s all about where the voices are placed in my body,” she explains. “I like to think that the sound is coming from my belly. It’s grounded in my feet and tummy. When I do Celine Dion, I need to put the voice in my nose because she has a nasal tone. Barbra Streisand is also in my nose as well as in the top of my mouth, inside my mouth and up my cheek. Tina Turner is in my throat. I had a hard time getting her, down, though, until I finally realized that her voice was all over my body. But when I watched her video, I saw that there was something missing in my impression. So I got out my highest high heels, bent my knees, put my shoulders up and I had her voice.”
Call that the anatomy of a stellar career that actually began, unbeknownst to Veronic, when she was 10 years old and growing up in her native Quebec. Back then, she was imitating her schoolteachers and discovered that it was a great way to make friends and to make people laugh. But it wasn’t until 2008 that that her talent turned into a professional vehicle when she opened for Celine Dion in front of 25,000 people.
“In my other life, I was a singer and a recording artist,” she relates. “I had recorded two albums and was doing promotion on TV in Quebec as well as performing in shows like Chicago and Grease. In 2007, I was working on my third album with Celine’s and Rene’s son-in-law, who had done impressions way back when. He asked me if I could be Celine’s opening act but as an impersonator. He made a video of me and gave it to Celine. I stopped working on my album and my shows for a whole year and began working on voices with my vocal coach, whom I’ve had for 17 years. I first opened for Celine in Montreal in August 2008
“I opened 14 shows for Celine,” she adds. “It was during that time that she and Rene asked me to do her voice. Celine and Renee are co-producing my show at Bally’s with my husband and I. They re my guardian angels.”
Celine and Rene were in the audience on Veronic’s opening night at Bally’s. Veronic admits that it’s intimidating to do Celine in front of Celine. Likewise, when Shania Twain came to Veronic Voices and was sitting in the front row, Veronic reveals that because she was feeling intimidated, she couldn’t look at Twain while doing her impression of her. and that she couldn’t wait to get that segment over with. She states that her approach is to be a friend to these artists and not to make fun of them but rather to pay homage to them.
“There is a fine line between caricature and homage,” she notes. “The people in the audience laugh just because they’re seeing someone on stage doing someone else’s voice.”
Veronic says that some voices only take her a day or two or a week to get down while others can take a lot of time. Pink, for example, took her three weeks to a month while Barbra Streisand took her an entire year. She notes that because she doesn’t want to do a parody of these celebrities, she has to be careful where she puts her voice. She listens to a lot of their material and watches their videos to get their mannerisms.
“Thank god for You-Tube,” she smiles. “When I’m doing an impression, I actually try to assume the character. I feel like the person I am doing. I try to avoid hearing Veronic in any of my voices. I’m Veronic only when I talk.”
“I think that some people think that impressionists dress up,” she continues. “What I do is not like what Frank Marino does. I reproduce female voices and I envision these artists singing – there is something of them in my mind. Sometimes it’s their mouth or teeth or hair. There is always an image that I glue to the singer I’m impersonating. For example, Barbra Streisand has long, thin nails. That’/s an image I have of her so I try to put my hands like hers.”
With her audiences being ages 20 to 80, Veronic’s criteria for doing a celebrity is that the singer has to be known and her songs have to be known. Having just added Patsy Cline to her performance, she now does 50 impressions in the show from all different genres and eras, from Britney Spears, Rihanna and Pink to Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Swift to Anita Baker and Karen Carpenter to Barbra Streisand, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Veronic also dances and plays piano and guitar in the show.
“This is my first show in the United States and for me to be in Las Vegas is very, very big,” Veronic enthuses. “My form of art is so Vegas. It’s the perfect playground for me.”
One thing’s for certain – she doesn’t have to play alone. Where Veronic is concerned, one is joyfully a crowd.
Photo credit: Max Abadian