By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
From adversity to triumph: Rachel Dupard is living proof. The 21-year-old native of Duncanville now calls Santa Fe home. She’s a first semester senior at Santa Fe University of Art and Design as a Contemporary Music major. Dupard is a singer whose inner voice broke through a childhood hearing dysfunction.
Her formative years in North Texas were impactful and revelatory, with more than a fair share of struggles, for the young lady born with fluid in her inner ear that complicated her hearing. Before she was in kindergarten, Dupard had already endured several surgeries and began three years of comprehensive speech therapy.
But Dupard remembers the support of loving parents and the joy of singing. She remembers the heavenly noise of singing with her church and elementary school choirs. She remembers the impact Big Thought partner The Black Academy of Arts and Letters made in her journey via five years of rigorous summer programs and three years of master classes.
“The performances during the summer programs at TBAAL gave her the confidence to be onstage and not be intimated, almost like she was on Broadway,” says LaChanda Dupard, Rachel’s mother. “That led to her audition to get into Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and then college auditions. She walked into those auditions with a confidence level built by those years at TBAAL.”
Dupard looks back on her 21 years philosophically: “My life has been aligned like dominoes,” she says by phone from Santa Fe. “I am excited about what is next in my life.”
TBAAL helped reinforce the foundation for Dupard’s singing dreams. She was in that potentially awkward teenage cusp during her first summer performance camp at TBAAL, a longtime Big Thought partner. It was 2008, and little did Dupard know how invaluable that experience would be. In fact, three years later Dupard was honored with TBAAL’s Curtis King Performing Arts Award.
“I had the best time,” she says. “They taught me how to tap into emotions, how to tell a story, your story. That is essential to being an artist. It really helped change me and helped me be the artist that I am today. “
Dupard has studied classical through childhood private voice lessons, as well as gospel, R&B, and now jazz. She’s keenly aware of her talents, while at the same time accepting of the fact that her hearing history forces her to work harder to keep pace with classmates.
“I still have to focus a little bit more,” she says. “I still have to realize that I don’t learn as fast as my other colleagues.”
But the passion burns, and Dupard has no regrets. She’s exactly where she needs to be thanks to parents, mentors and instructors that encouraged her to reach deep inside and nurture her gift. Adversity led to triumph.
“My whole life has been an adventure so far and I’m so excited about it,” she says. “It’s been a lot of trials but at the same time it’s been enjoyable. College is setting me up perfectly for the real world of music. It has helped me deal with different people. I grew up in a very loving environment with my mom and dad. They taught me how to love people. I can’t wait to see how life turns out for me.”