Long's love for expressing herself
TUES. |4-4-23| FEATURES
Blinding lights. Sweaty palms. A silent, yet eager audience. It is showtime.
The stage is a very familiar setting for Rose junior Maria Long who has been singing since she was about four years old.
Long actually has Barbie to thank for introducing her to singing. She would sing along while watching Barbie movies and her mother thought she had real potential.
“Once my mom saw that I was able to sing, then I had voice lessons,” Long said. “She just taught me different songs and then I would perform
Photo by Gabi Castillo
them, so I have been performing since I was like five years old.”
She started to realize that she was pretty good at singing in elementary school, so in the third grade, Long decided to take her talents to the East Carolina University Down East Talent Search.
“I won the most votes online, so I got one of those big checks which was really cool,” Long said.
From there she started performing at all kinds of events.
“Doing the national anthem sophomore year was fun and probably my favorite event,” Long said. “It was Conley [vs.] Rose, so it was a big game and a lot of people were there.”
While she enjoys singing the national anthem, it is the only time Long gets stage fright.
“I think it's like that because it's such an important song,... a bunch of people are watching and everyone knows the national anthem,” Long said. “I just have to take deep breaths, that's all I can do and I’m still nervous throughout the whole song, but once I finish it feels so good.”
When Long started high school, she found that she really enjoys combining the theatrical aspect with singing.
“I’ve done four shows at Rose and in two of them I had a lead role,” Long said. “I was Allegra in ‘The Plot, like Gravy, Thickens’ and I’m currently Cinderella in ‘Into the Woods.’”
Since Long has gotten experience in musical theatre, she often finds herself at a crossroad between singing at events and singing as a character.
“Sometimes I really like just singing at different things like I sing at church all the time and I just love doing that, but other times I really like being a character,” Long said. “Like being Cinderella in ‘Into the Woods’, I get to be a princess which is not something you get to do everyday and it's so fun.”
Long’s favorite part of being a singer is the ability to express a feeling in a way that some people aren’t able to.
“It's just fun to be able to express myself and my feelings,” Long said. “When I’m really sad about something, sometimes I just need to sing and get it off my chest.”
Although this gift came to her naturally, she still has challenges. Her biggest struggle is keeping her voice in check.
“I just try to make sure I’m drinking tea and I can’t have certain drinks like milk, which will coat the throat, or coffee,” Long said. “It is important I keep my vocal cords healthy.”
The feeling after performing is a feeling that keeps Long dedicated.
“It's the best feeling ever, I just feel so relieved and so proud of myself,” Long said. “It is nerve-racking to work so hard for one moment, but then you do it and you can just breathe.”
Singing has been a part of Long’s life for as long as she can remember, so naturally, she wants to carry it into her future.
“I plan to major in…either musical theatre, music therapy or musical education in college,” Long said. “I want to live in New York city…and I’m not sure what I specifically want to do, but that's where I want to go with it.”
When Long is singing, her biggest inspiration is singer-songwriter Billie Eilish.
“She was famous so young and she's had a lot of pressure on her, but she’s still so good," Long said.
Singing is Long’s heart and she will continue to do so for as long as she is able to.
“I just love singing,” Long said. “I’m so blessed and I thank God every single day for giving me this.”