Collin College Alumna, Laura Ault
“My lifelong dream came true. I walked the red carpet. They flew me to New York. It was very surreal. It happened so fast I couldn’t believe it was really happening. My song, ‘Like a Star’, was selected,” Ault said.
A Collin College graduate, singer and songwriter, Ault submitted her song online—with about 1,200 other people. It was a grueling, three-month process. She was selected as a finalist, made the top 25, then the top six and finally her song and three others were selected for the new movie.
“My song is played in a really touching scene. The main character has had a crush on a girl for a long time, and when he walks her home you can hear the chorus ‘Like a star in the sky, floating up so high, I’m gonna fall for you. Catch me when I do,’” Ault said.
Long before you could hear Ault’s songs on ABC, CBS, MTV, E! and VH1, the songwriter dreamed of becoming an actress. Her musical journey started when she began taking piano lessons at six years old. At 10, she abandoned sheet music and began playing by ear. She was writing her own songs at 16.
“I spent a lot of time at home on the piano, but I was just playing around. I didn’t think I would use it,” she said.
Ault selected Collin College because of the nationally recognized theatre program and because she says the equipment is top of the line.
“You cannot really compare Collin College’s program to any other program in the state. It is unbeatable. I really came into my own in musical theatre. I was in ‘The Apple Tree’ and ‘Gypsy’ and had a starring role in ‘A New Brain’ at the college. Professor Brad Baker can really read people and push you and give you confidence. He believes in you and gives you the skills to do well. When I went to New York, I knew what to do and got the callbacks right away. He and Professor Gail Cronauer both taught me that when you are performing you have to embrace the uniqueness of who you are.”
Ault’s tale could be a scene in a play. In between performances, she worked as a waitress in a New York restaurant. When she wrote “Sunshine in My Mind,” her notepad had orders of cheeseburgers and fries, surrounded by scribbles of emerging song lyrics she could not get out of her head. She won second place in the Latin genre in the National Intel Superstars competition and her song was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
“I would not stop until I finished the song. I walked around and would sing it. It’s about living in the city but dreaming of being on the beach.”
The idea came to Ault as she was riding the subway and dreaming of a tropical vacation. She realized that being surrounded by people while mentally relaxing on the beach had the makings of a good song. Typically, something in a chord or group of notes resonates with Ault, and instinctively she knows there is a song trying to break out. She is like a sculptor, letting the untouched music settle into her subconscious, and then slowly fashioning it into the right shape, feeling her way as she goes. When it all comes together, she cannot turn off the stream of creativity until she has the final, polished product.
“The initial idea comes organically. I write things down, but I know I can make it better, so then I start tweaking the words. It is a fun challenge. What is wonderful is that instead of singing somebody else’s words I am able to write my own, and that is so much more fulfilling.”
Recently, Ault visited Collin College and sat in on a musical theatre workshop. She watched her former professors molding students and was reminded of her own experience.
“So many people are afraid because they want people to like them, but those choices are what make you—you, and ultimately make you great. Figuring out who you are and being confident enough to show it translates to any art including songwriting because you are really writing who you are.”
Though a teenage Ault, performing with her hairbrush in the mirror, chalked songwriting up to a mere hobby, the skilled and humble songwriter of today has a great respect for those childlike passions. She has learned the lesson that the best work often comes from creative play time.
“When something comes out and I look at the words and they snap into place, it feels like it came from above and landed on my paper. I’m not that clever, but I love songwriting. I need it, and I couldn’t live without it.”
To hear Ault’s music visit lauraault.com or download her songs on iTunes.
To learn more about musical theatre at Collin College, visit collintheatrecenter.com.
Reprinted with permission by Allen Image