ROBERT CORNELIUS


1.0  You have a rich, deep voice, when did you realize you could really sing? We had a fan years ago that said she had a loop of my singing voice in the birthing room when she had her daughter. I think that painted a picture of the effect my singing voice had on people. I still think I am learning, getting better, so I am a bad one to ask.

2.0  Does it mean anything to be from Chicago? I think there is a real advantage to being from Chicago. I have found in my years in the business that there is a really strong and tight knit community here. Also, the history of music here is always being addressed, so it is really connected to something bigger. I think this is the greatest city in the world, so it has definitely shaped the way I write and the way I perform.

3.0  Who is your all-time favorite Chicago Cub and why? My all time favorite is Ernie Banks. When I was in 5th grade I transferred schools and his sons Joel and Joseph were in my class. They invited me over after school, and their dad came out and played catch with us on the front lawn. He even went in-himself-and got me a lefty glove to catch with. Simplest thing in the world, but it taught me a lot about celebrity and fame. He was just a dad playing catch with his kids. It is part of the reason I have never been star struck, or patient with assholes.

4.0  When you did you catch the acting bug? I have been an actor all my life. I think I was sure about it the first time I saw a play. I just have never thought of myself as NOT being an actor. I did it in grade school and throughout high school, and it just seemed like the most natural thing in the world. It is one of those things I have just always known. And there was no one in my family to make me think it was a possibility, but nobody ever told me it wasn’t, so…

5.0  Does performing music live differ much from acting on stage? which do you prefer? I learned more about being an actor when I began treating music with the same discipline. I believe there is no difference. We are, in effect, storytellers. Our goal is to connect with the audience, and whether it is intellectual, emotional, physical, or visceral, or ALL of those, the goal in theater and in music-in fact all of the arts-is the same: tell a good story.

6.0  Does one have to experience heartache to sing with soul? This is a hard one for me to answer, because I had never sung without experiencing heartache, as I started professionally pretty late. I guess life experience helps, but I can act a song as well as I can sing it. I believe most singers feel that way.

7.0  You enjoy carpentry, are you a dreamer or a pragmatist? Full on dreamer. I firmly believe that any craft can be elevated to art. That is where my love for building-and creating in general-comes from; the potential, and the leap of fatih you have to take to try to reach that potential.

8.0  What advice would give a youngster who has natural singing ability? Sing. Go listen to people sing. Get help from people more experienced than you. Decide who you like, and try to figure out what it is about them that you like. The best way to get better is to figure out who you are. Singing isn’t a comparative sport-contrary to what so many believe-so you have to focus on what it is about your voice that you like, and develop that.

9.0  Mick Jagger once sang “It’s the singer, not the song”, what do you think he meant? I think he meant if you have a great song, and you don’t sing it great, how will people know it is great? We have all heard rotten versions of classic songs.

10.0  If you could time travel, where would you go? I am not really interested in reliving the past, and to preoccupied with the present to travel to the future. As an acting teacher I talk all the time to my students about being in the moment. I believe that is the best advice I could give to anyone. Enjoy the moment ~

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