By Jonathan Frahm
Virginia Cannon knows her way around music. This recent Tucson import is a hot commodity in Nashville whose expansive history as a performance coach, media coordinator, consultor, mentor, and artist manager has garnered her respect across the board in the industry. Now, she’s bringing her broad set of skills to the Old Pueblo and the surrounding area and it’s culminating in a medley of ways.
As of 2016, Cannon currently resides in Oro Valley. Since moving to southern Arizona, she has introduced a monthly songwriter’s showcase to the popular music venue Monterey Court. Furthermore, Cannon has established a growing musical contest called Passport to Nashville. Via the Passport to Nashville website, Tucsonan artists can submit self-penned songs to a panel of judges for a chance at several beneficial prizes.
Virginia Cannon Presents! is the name of her monthly occupation at Monterey Court, and it’s an extension of the exact show she had been putting on for eight and a half years back in Nashville. Occurring on the third Thursday of every month, each show highlights a different set of artists carefully selected by Cannon to accentuate some of Tucson’s top songwriters and performers.
In Nashville, this same program helped lead her to a whopping five Music in Media nominations and the respect of countless songwriters who say she’s had a hand in launching their careers. Here in Tucson, she’s just getting started, but Cannon is already covering serious ground. Her Passport to Nashville experience, for instance, is picking up some serious steam.
Passport to Nashville sees Arizonan songwriters submitting up to three of their songs to an esteemed panel of judges via the platform’s official website. The Top 10 songwriters will be notified of their achievement and will then perform in Tucson for their chance to perform before the judges and win any number of prizes. These prizes are serious business, containing assets ranging from a one-year subscription to the Nashville Songwriters Association International to free lessons from the Allegro School of Music here in Tucson.
Actually, it’s thanks to Allegro that Cannon has been able to begin burying her roots here in Tucson and Oro Valley. “I want everyone to know that Allegro was the only music school in this city that even gave me a chance,” says Cannon of the school, which now has two locations 1st Ave. and Broadway Blvd.
Offering her skills as a live performance coach to Allegro, Cannon infers that not many others in Arizona understand just what her occupation is or what it may entail.
“In Nashville, I had more work than I could handle. Everybody there gets it and I was there for so long and such a public figure. Here, it’s gonna take some time for people to understand what I can do for their kid.”
What she does as a live performance coach is empower. People in Cannon’s shoes provide priceless knowledge of song arrangement and performance to budding artists to help jump start their career. At Allegro, she works with a range of students on how to better their on-stage skills. She will work with them on their vocals and instrument of choice, as well as other sides of musical performance that those from the outside looking in may not be all too aware of.
For a current example of just what it is that Cannon does with Allegro, she cites two of her students, 8-year-old Leah Martin and 18-year-old Harry Leal.
“Harry is an extremely proficient guitar player and he also sings, so I’ve got them doing duets,” Cannon elucidates. “What we do in the first session is we meet up and we talk about song selection, because I want them to perform something that they like. So, we got the song selection last week and yesterday I coached with them.”
Cannon goes on to explain the meticulous process of song arrangement coaching, something that she genuinely loves. Once the song selection was made (Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Butterfly Fly Away”), she sent the guitar and lyric sheets out to Harry and Leah and made sure they were studying up on the song via YouTube link. They all listened to the song repetitiously throughout the week to learn the original’s ins and outs. Then, Cannon worked her magic to arrange the best possible version of the song to accentuate her students’ abilities.
Leah and her sister Jazmyn (10) have gone on to be recognized by the International Modeling & Talent Association in New York City. Out of 125 contestant from around the world, Leah won first place for singing at the competition and Jazmyn garnered two honorable mentions in two separate categories.
Between their Allegro vocal coach Katie Azevedo and Cannon’s own tutelage, the girls are on track to become some of the next shining stars from out of Arizona. Before they hit Hollywood, you might just see them performing at Virginia Cannon Presents! at Monterey Court.
Performance coach helps local talent make it big
Jazzmyn Martin, recent winner at New York talent show with the assistance of Performance Coach Virgina Cannon.