My Story

The Whole Story

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about my story – I know many people who have experienced versions of the same beginnings.  I share my story here because I think it’s important to talk about the whole story, not just the highlights. We are whole people, whole singers, and we have complex stories. Everyone has their own singing story. This is mine. (Well, the edited-for-the-internet version).

Part One: Growing up as "the singer"

"The singer"

Growing up, I was “the singer”. As a child I would sing all the time. I have vivid memories of playing CDs on my walkman over and over to learn the lyrics to a song. I sang at church – my first solo was unplanned at age 7 when a whole group of us were supposed to sing “The Rainbow Connection”, but everyone else chickened out, and after a pause and a nod of encouragement from my mum, I went ahead.

I begged my parents to let me stop violin lessons and sing instead, and eventually, they found me a teacher. Highlights included helping me and a friend sing a duet for her Dad’s wedding – I’m sure we were adorable. 

At high school I started getting ‘serious’ about singing. I auditioned for the choir, started sitting Classical singing exams, and soon found myself singing solos for important events, directing choirs and with lead roles in the school musicals. I lived and breathed singing, and I was known as “the singer”.

Early signs of conflict

Still, in amongst all that singing success, there were some signs that things didn’t feel quite right.

My choir director wanted me to blend my voice and make it smaller, while my singing teacher was working on finding my bigger voice. I ended up quitting the choir.

I joined a barbershop quartet and had SO much fun, until my singing teacher told me I could hurt my voice. (Reader, she was well-intentioned but also completely wrong). So I stopped.

In my lessons and practice I was singing classical technique exclusively…but I was also a teenager into pop songs and felt ‘naughty’ singing in my speech register, playing around with other sounds. I didn’t dare do it too much though, because I had been taught the ‘right’ way to sing, the ‘best’ way to sing, and this wasn’t it.

Full steam ahead

Nonetheless, I was really good* at singing. I got top grades in my singing exams. I auditioned for things and got roles I wanted. People in the industry told me I had ‘potential’. And so I decided to study voice at university.

I auditioned for several programmes, got in everywhere, chose my path. I was on my way!

*Reader, please note that what you and I were taught to be the definition of “good” singing is Westernised elitism and we are all trying to unlearn that lie.


No longer the big fish in a small pond

University was hard. I was a diligent student but the environment we learned in was rough. Competition, comparison and perfectionism were encouraged, as was the “master-apprentice” relationship, where the teachers knew everything and what they said, was truth.

I constantly felt like I was sprinting but making no headway. My inner voice was being taught to be ultra-critical, while externally I was being told I needed to toughen up because this was the real world. My voice got gradually smaller, thinner, unreliable. I got terrible stage fright (previously non-existent), and I often felt like a failure.

I know now that none of that was my fault.

I did have some good times – I competed in competitions, wore beautiful dresses, sang some incredible songs, and made some friends for life. I got to understudy the lead role in an opera. (This means I was the backup person!). I excelled at languages and I loved the academic side of my studies (ask me about my essay on a sushi parody of Beethoven’s 5th).

But then…

Part Two: Redefining what it means to be a "singer"

Sticks and stones

In my final year of study, a teacher I really looked up to told me that I didn’t have what it took to be a singer, and that I wasn’t likely to pass my final exams.

While I knew they were wrong, and they were wrong to be saying this to me, I wasn’t in a position to defend myself.*

I was devastated. I lost my voice (literally!), and fell apart. Thanks to friends and family, some treasured other teachers, and some sheer determination, I did pass my final exams.

But all the joy was gone and I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to sing again.

Reader, no one else gets to decide if you are ‘good enough’ to be a singer. Even in an academic setting. You sing, therefore you are a singer.

Safe spaces and fresh starts

It took me a long time to build my confidence back up, and reclaim my identify as a singer. 

The first steps were singing in spaces that felt safe. I sang at my church that Christmas, for my community. I joined a choir where no one knew me, and I could just sing with no expectations from anyone else. I found some joy and freedom in my voice again.

Then, I moved to France, partly to get away but mostly to join my then-boyfriend. 

Initially, I studied singing privately, which did help me discover new things about my voice, but after a year I realised that my priorities had changed and I no longer wanted to be a professional singer…and that perhaps that had never been MY dream at all.


Taking a break from singing

I took a deep breath, and decided to stop singing completely and take a side step into a different career path. I learned lots of skills that I now use as a business owner, but I soon felt like a part of me was missing. One day my boss said to me, you know Georgia, you could really make a career out of [job]. And I knew it was time to find my next chapter…because the thought of that made me want to scream!

Through the support of my partner and some wonderful friends and teachers, I came to the realisation that helping other people discover confidence in their own voices was my next step.

Part three: Finding my voice

Founding GGVS

In 2017 I opened Georgia Gray Voice Studio (GGVS), and in 2018 it became my full-time job. I worked with expat children and adults in Paris, and had some really fun projects like workshops with Rock U Paris, the Sondheim in Song workshop series with International Players, and teaching LAMDA Musical Theatre classes with Harriet Phillimore.

I muddled my way through my teaching, following my gut and using the foundations of what I’d learned in my studies while also unlearning and steering away from the delivery I had been taught was *right*. I must have done something right though, because my goal to be earning enough to live by year 2 worked out, and I committed to sticking with it. For all the challenges of learning to run a business, I was happy and whole, doing something I truly love.

Going online

When transport strikes, and then the pandemic, made teaching in person impossible, I moved my studio online. People said it couldn’t be done, but I’m a problem-solver at heart and we made it possible! 

I started working with clients in other countries, which I loved, and ran group classes with my Voices in Flight programme. We learned how to do online recitals, karaoke parties, and master classes, and I adapted my studio model more and more to my clients. Ironically, having an online studio brought the studio community closer together.

Growing and expanding

I decided to stay online when we entered the post-pandemic period. I wasn’t ready to risk my voice and my students by returning to in-person lessons while the virus was still very present. And then it suited my life stage, because in 2022 I had my first baby.

Through my pregnancy, I found myself turning more and more away from “traditional” singing teaching. Heavily influenced by voice pedagogy leaders like Meredith Colby, Shannon Coates and Sarah Whitten, I shifted my teaching style towards my students needs. I started letting them lead their lessons, their goals, their joys. I asked them more questions, and stopped “prescribing” “fixes” (as I had been taught to do). I coached more and more, and taught less and less.

My clients did a 6-month DIY programme called ‘Flying Solo’ while I was on maternity leave. It was my first foray into a self-guided course, and I am really proud of the resources that came out of it. Our concert at the end of the programme, with a baby on my knees, listening to my students reflect on what they had nailed, what they had learned, and what they still needed support on, was a special moment!

Part four: Listening to Your Voices

Finding messy harmony

A zoom screenshot of Georgia Aussenac at her keyboard with her baby on her knees, the image of her student blocked out with the GL Voice bird logo on the bright purple background.

Things didn’t go to plan coming back from maternity leave.

My well-oiled machine of a business model didn’t fit my new life, and my new needs.

I waded through the messiness of teaching with a baby on my lap, writing social media posts while breastfeeding in the wee hours, and timing my productivity with nap time.

But through that messy time, I found clarity too. I am a whole person – and so are my clients. Some weeks we are rearing to go, have done all our prep, and are firing ahead. And sometimes we got no sleep, we don’t know where the time went, and we don’t want to put aside our love for singing but it doesn’t feel possible to show up the way we’re expected to. So, it was time to find a way to ditch the one-hour-a-week lesson model, once and for all.

I redesigned the Studio model to include ways of learning together that didn’t involve showing up on a live camera. We experimented with different forms of communication, and found what worked best for each individual. We got really good at shifting the goal posts, adapting on any given day to any given circumstance. And the singers thrived, and grew in confidence, because they were in charge and the pressure of *have tos* and *shoulds* was lifted.

I also listened to what my clients wanted. That’s how the Karaoke Parties were born, and why we made Studio Class a fixture for our Kea singers. And honestly, they are some of my favourite parts of what we do at GL Voice.

Welcome to GL Voice

Georgia Aussenac, a white woman with long blonde hair, is leaning forward into the camera, hands on knees, laughing. She's wearing a white tee, and standing on a path outdoors.

In 2023 I rebranded as GL Voice.

GL Voice is the umbrella for all the voice work I do, in front and behind the scenes.

The Voice Studio is about putting the singer at the centre of our work together: celebrating the music you love, coaching you in the way that works best for your brain and your lifestyle, adapting to your needs as they shift and change. I get to guide, coach and cheer on as my clients make singing an easy and constant part of their lives.

GL Voice has also allowed me to expand my work with the voice, finally bringing out in to the open my love of French (obsession?), and my desire to make Vocal Health knowledge accessible to everyone who uses their voice professionally, not just singers.

I also do work for other Voice professionals – helping to make their voices shine through branded documents, streamlined business processes, and facilitating continuing education.

I am proud to have clients who stay for years, and become an integral part of our community, and leave because they don’t need me anymore – they’re ready to fly solo!

What comes next?

Only time will tell! But if you want to be in the know, the best place is to subscribe to Voice Notes, the GL Voice newsletter. Make singing an easy part of your life, right from your inbox!

Epilogue: I am a singer

My journey as a singer has still got lots of road ahead. I don’t know where my voice will take me! But I do know that it’s mine to choose.

Right now, reader, I sing for me and the people who are important to me.

I sing to my baby to soothe him and teach him and entertain him. I sing with my husband on road trips. I sing for big family events – special moments that need music to say the things words can’t say alone.

I sing for and with my community – at my church, and in my studio.

I’ll never say never to getting back on a stage, but when I do it’ll be on my terms.

About the Author

Georgia Aussenac is a Singing Coach specialising in fostering confidence, joy and fun for adults looking to make singing a part of their lives.

Georgia also coaches English-speaking singers and voice teachers on French diction.

With a particular passion for everything vocal health, Georgia offers Vocal SOS coaching to anyone who uses their speaking voice professionally and is struggling to keep up with the demands of their job.

You can work with Georgia online from anywhere in the world, as long as your schedules match up!