How a play can change your life

A role in "Hair" leads alumna to release debut album

Above: “Be My Summertime,” the lead single off Brynn Stanley’s, BA’07 (Florham), recently released debut jazz/pop album, “Hello California.”


By Dan Landau

Sometimes a play can change your life. It did for Brynn Stanley, BA’07 (Florham). After playing the lead role in a Florham Campus musical she discovered that she could sing in front of an audience. And she enjoyed doing it.

Fast-forward eight years to the present and she’s just released her debut album, a fun and cheerful frolic through the West Coast sunshine called “Hello, California.”

Stanley grew up in a musical family (“my dad was a Beatles nut and had music on all the time,” she says), and loved singing, but struggled with debilitating stage fright. “I left my middle and high school graduations to faint,” she says.

It was at FDU during her sophomore year that she found a way to push past the fear. “I was singing at the piano in Dreyfuss Hall with my friends and one of them said I should try out for the musical, ‘Hair.’ I tried out and I got the lead role,” she recounts.

“When I found out I got the lead, I was really nervous. I had never been in a production before and I was terrified of being on stage. My mom encouraged me though, telling me ‘it’s OK if you decide not to, but think about how your life could change if you decide to take the role.’ I did it and I fell in love with performing and that love was stronger than my fear. Getting the lead in ‘Hair’ changed my life,” says Stanley.


Brynn Stanley's "Hello California" is available on iTunes.


Since her days as a fine arts and theater student at FDU, Stanley has developed a style that marries the slow, soulful sounds of Ella Fitzgerald with the more upbeat, jazzy-pop of Sara Bareilles.

This fun style is on full display in “Be My Summertime,” the first single from “Hello, California.” “The music video for this song was inspired by the Jersey shore,” says Stanley. “I grew up in Basking Ridge and I wrote this song in New Jersey before I moved to California, where I wrote the rest of the songs on the album.”