THE MICROPHONE died as an eight-year-old Ambur Braid sang for the crowd at the Pacific Northwest Music Festival.
Her tiny voice barely reached the third row.
Gathering her courage, she filled her lungs and cast her voice across them — reaching the back rows and finishing her performance.
Now 28, Terrace-born Braid is an internationally acclaimed opera singer living in Toronto.
It hasn’t been an easy climb. The world of opera singing is dog-eat-dog, explained Braid.
“Every day you have to prove yourself,” she said.
But she has — from members of the Terrace Evangelical Free Church where she sang nearly 26 years ago, to opera’s big wigs at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto where she now works.
Braid sings soprano, which is the highest of the female voice types.
In opera-theatre, the soprano usually plays the main female character.
Looking ahead, Braid is set to play Semele — the heroine of Handel’s drama titled Semele, a tragic love story based on Greek mythology.
But her professional repertoire doesn’t stop at opera.
“I’ve performed with rock bands,” Braid said. “The recent one was a mash up with Broken Social Scene.”
She’s also opened for the Tragically Hip and Tony Bennett.
And for developing her musical passion, she thanks Terrace for opportunities like the music festival.
“Having those opportunities,” she said, “gave me a lot of experience and exposure to different types of music.”
Braid also sang with the Kermode Choristers in Terrace.
They sang in a classical style, touring to give performances, including one for Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of UNBC in Prince George in August of 1994.
“My bow tie was crooked,” Braid recalled, laughing.
“It was always crooked when I was a kid.”
And although she describes her younger self as less-than put together, the singer’s voice is anything but.
Trained by local music teacher Sue Doughtey, it’s been her passport to travel across Canada and also internationally.
“I moved away when I was 16 and I’ve been moving away ever since,” said Braid.
She earned her Bachelor of Music in Toronto, studied abroad and has trained on the stages of Chianti, Italy before completing her Masters at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Like many in the music business, travel has become a way of life for her.
“As lonely as it can be, it’s always rather thrilling,” said Braid. “You create this family wherever you are.”