Sept. 7 2010 12:00 AM

Soprano Janet Williams returns to MSU

“Last time I was here was the beginning of my career. I had
a performance in the Wharton Center and the building had just finished. I think
it was somewhere around '89-90,” recalls soprano Janet Williams.
Since then, the Michigan State University grad has become an international opera star.

Williams will perform once again at MSU at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Music Building Auditorium. She
will be dedicating her recital as a thank-you to her mother, who recently
turned 70.

I first started as a singer, my mother encouraged me to continue studying. She
moved me away from, you know, singing backstage for a pop group. She said, 'Janet, why sing for a pop band when you can be an opera singer?' So, I’m
really glad that she encouraged me to stay and study.”

also recalls the time her mother — together with a group of friends
— planned a performance for her at the Detroit Orchestra Hall. “The seats were
sold out and, with that job, I could go to France. So, this (concert)
is like coming full circle to say thank you to my Detroit family and friends.”

show is all the more special because she will showcase a variety of musical

“I do baroque and
(Irving) Berlin, because that’s where I started off. There will be a lot of German repertoire:
Strauss, because he’s my favorite German composer; Mozart, another famous German
composer. I’ll do some Poulenc because I was also in France for a while. In the
second half, I’ll focus a lot on American music, American spirituals.”

on campus, Williams will also conduct a master class for MSU voice
students. “I’m gonna have them sing first, observe, and then I’ll make my
tips,” she says.

Her recent book, “Nail Your
Next Audition, The Ultimate 30-Day Guide for Singers,” provides key advice for
amateur singers. “It’s all about deciding what you want and work toward it.
One: Know what’s in your way. Two: Work hard toward moving those obstacles. So,
it's about planning, moving toward the plan and tweaking the plan to make it.”

Williams will also be awarded the
Distinguished Alumni Award by the College of Music Alumni Board during her visit. “I’m very honored and happy, she says. It’s great to see that the
people that helped you get started, helped you are recognizing your

Janet Williams, soprano, and Alan Nathan, piano
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8
Michigan State University Music Building Auditorium