Music to My Ears

Los Angeles native Katie Marino's talented vocals are the heart and soul of a new music school.

Los Angeles native Katie Marino's talented vocals are the heart and soul of a new music school. By Celeste White

Monday, April 1, 2013

I've never been musically inclined enough to master an instrument, but I do understand the urge to sing. My childhood home was filled with singing of all kinds; even those of us who could not carry a tune in a bucket belted out songs about everything from washing the dishes to riding a train. My mama taught us songs she sang with her sisters, and we made up songs about mundane things we did around the house. I still break (painfully) into song with my kids at the least prompting.

Photo by Robin May

So I was thrilled to discover a new, voice-centered musical treasure has made its home in Lafayette: The Music Box is owned and run by Katie Marino, a Los Angeles native with a decade-long successful music career who has found her way to Lafayette and decided to share her love of voice by offering vocal training to locals. Marino's résumé is substantial: she's written and recorded songs for commercial placement in dozens of spots on television, film, video games, and commercials (more than 40 for juggernaut Mattel alone). She completed a two-year tour as a background vocalist to Jessica Simpson with stops in iconic venues including Madison Square Gardens and The Grand Ole Opry, and to television shows including the Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America, Dancing with the Stars, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and The View.  Perhaps most impressive, she's written with hit producers Alonzo Jackson (Beyonce, Kelly Roland, Pink), Justin Graham (Leona Lewis, Victoria Justice), and Drew Money (Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Jay-Z).

But the road to such achievement started in a musical home - and a mother braiding her hair at the piano bench.

"Music has always been a part of my life," Marino explains. "It started in the ballet studio training to classical music. My mom, who owned a ballet studio throughout her life, gave us the opportunity to nurture our creativity. My oldest brother is a phenomenal musician." Marino and her twin sister eventually began classical piano training. "I remember my mom would braid my hair before school while I was at the piano bench practicing. It was only natural that I would sing next."

Marino's serious vocal training began in high school. Marino considers the kind of work that training demanded as essential to the development of any serious voice musician: "I always compare vocal development and training to the development and training of an athlete. The voice requires conditioning for the vocalist to move effortlessly through their range."

"A ballerina doesn't show up on her first day on pointe and doing triple pirouettes and a beautiful arabesque," she explains, "and a vocalist [similarly] has necessary training steps to get through to strengthen their talent. The process takes time and trust."

And Marino is poised to deliver such time and trust to area vocalists. The Music Box offers classes including vocal development, theory and repertoire work. Students have regular performances and get the opportunity to record in the studio each year. If you or your child just cannot stop belting out tunes, contact The Music Box by emailing [email protected] or by visiting The Music Box Facebook page,

Celeste White is a 34-year-old mother of two who practices law in Lafayette and enjoys reading and running.