Look at this Stuff… Isn’t it Neat?

“Part of Your World” is such a perfect song to me. It seems as if it is always stuck in my head. There isn’t a day that goes by without me singing it or humming it at least once.

Tonight, I came across this little gem of a video. It’s Jodi Benson, recording the song with Howard Ashman. If you’re a big fan of The Little Mermaid, this will literally give you chills.



The Little Mermaid: Disney’s Game Changer

I recently wrote this expository essay for a class and thought it was something that might interest you all. Hope you enjoy! It was lots of fun to write.


“Glen Keane was leaving Disney.” The news that one of Disney’s greatest animators was choosing to leave the company was all over the internet. When I saw this, I wondered what it would mean for the future of Disney princesses. He was one of many artists, writers, composers, directors, and producers that changed the meaning of “Disney princess” forever. After my emotions settled down and I was able to look at this loss objectively, I realized that although the exit of Glen Keane from Disney’s toolbox was devastating, it was not nearly as devastating as it would have been if Disney had lost the rights to the first princess he designed: the little mermaid, Ariel.

Ariel was Disney’s game changer. She inspired every hero and heroine that has come after her. There isn’t one specific characteristic of her film, The Little Mermaid, that defines its significance. The piece as a whole reflects the expectations we hold our family entertainment to today.

The first thing you notice about Ariel is her exotic look. Glen Keane, her lead animator, spent a lot of time researching what made people beautiful and focused on two main concepts: a unique appearance and perfect eyes. Other characters he designed later, such as Pocahontas and Rapunzel, reflect this ideology. The key to real beauty, however, is not just found in appearances. Disney explored Ariel as a character and made sure her personality was defined and realistic. Ariel’s father, King Triton, says she is “careless and reckless,” and she acts more like a real teenager than the other young princesses that came before her. Because she does not speak for half of the film, her visual design and personality were vital to its overall success.

Those characteristics were not enough, however. Ariel also needed to be relatable, but at first glance, she has a few things going against her: she is a mermaid, a princess, and desires to become a human. The three most important things about her are things that no one can directly relate to. Yet somehow, Ariel’s dreams speak to us. It doesn’t matter what her dream is. What matters is why she wants it. Ariel longs for something more, for freedom, for a chance to live her own life. This is something every child and, more specifically, every teenager can relate to. Her motives are not limited to a specific desire like love, knowledge, wealth, or fame. She simply wants to feel alive and has enough nerve to make this dream come true. Ursula, the sea witch that turns her into a human the first time, tells her, “Life’s full of tough choices.” Ariel understands this, but is never afraid to make the right choice to turn her dreams into reality.

When you compare her aforementioned traits and decisions to those of the princesses that came before her- Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty- you can see the difference, but the line is still blurry. There is, however, a significant choice Ariel makes that separates her from her predecessors and becomes a tradition carried on by many of her successors. Princess Ariel saves Prince Eric. She rescues him from drowning. This single scene from The Little Mermaid created a pattern easily seen in Disney’s succeeding princess films. Belle brings the Beast back to life when she admits, “I love you.” Pocahontas puts herself in front of her own father’s weapon right before he tries to carry out John Smith’s death sentence. Rapunzel heals Flynn Rider with her magical tears after Mother Goethel stabs him. Still, Ariel was the original to do this, making her a true role model for Disney princesses and young girls alike.

Although The Little Mermaid’s title suggests that the story revolves only around Ariel, this film introduced some of the most memorable supporting characters in Disney film history. Sebastian, the royal composer and Ariel’s guardian, is the most vivid example from the film. Although he is just a tiny crab, he has a strong voice and a huge heart. He sings the most in the film, having two feature songs (one of which won an Academy Award), and delivers some of the film’s most powerful dialogue. He even directly states one of the film’s themes: “Children got to be free to live their own lives.” Other supporting roles have their turns in the spotlight as well. Ursula was the first villain in a Disney princess film to have her own full-length song, and Prince Eric was given his own distinct personality and motives.

Another part of the film’s success must be attributed to the thing that won the movie two Oscars: the music. The score was composed by Alan Menken, who changed the sound and musical caliber for all Disney films since his debut with the company.  His compositions can also he heard in later films: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Tangled. Alan Menken and the lyricist for The Little Mermaid, Howard Ashman, did more than simply add music. They gave characters real voices and drove the story with smooth transitions and passion.

Every person from the animators to the composers that worked on The Little Mermaid put their hearts and souls into the film. These collaborators turned fairytales into more than just love stories. Ever since The Little Mermaid, Disney films have stood for family, friendship, duty, and faith. Princess films are no longer just for girls anymore, with heroes like The Little Mermaid’s Prince Eric that boys can look up to. In the past, Disney was criticized for not making their princesses and leading ladies strong enough, but after The Little Mermaid, that argument has been permanently defeated. Ariel says it herself: “Bright young women, sick of swimming, ready to stand.” Entertainment fans all over the world owe it to Ariel and her creators for taking a risk and being ready to stand for what the future of princesses deserved to be.

Ursula’s Latest Victim

“A woman doesn’t know how precious her voice is until she’s been silenced.” – Ursula

We’ve all had that feeling.. you wake up and someone says “Good morning!” to you. You open your mouth to respond, but instead of a friendly hello, you sound like a groggy Grinch. As you may have guessed, I’m writing this from experience.

This has happened to me before, but perhaps not at a worse time. I sing constantly, but during the holiday season, I am always found around my house belting my favorite Christmas tunes. These two weeks are also especially important for my voice; I have a singing exam this week, and next week, I’m performing at the Candlelight Processional in Epcot.

I pray that my sore throat heals as soon as possible, but its a part of living up north and singing your heart out everyday. Perhaps feeling a bit like Ariel isn’t the worst thing in the world; after all, she did get her handsome prince at the end.. AND she got her voice back in only 3 DAYS!


Stay healthy, friends 🙂

Faith, trust, & pixie dust,


The Courage to Sing from the Heart

Fear is a human limitation we force upon ourselves, not an act of natural instinct. Often times, fear is our only obstacle standing in the way, the sad part being that we are the ones who put it there. I am nowhere near fearless; in fact, I’m afraid of a lot of things. However, there had always been one fear holding me back from countless opportunities: my fear of singing in public.

This fear did not make sense compared to the rest of my personality. Acting is one of my favorite activities, and in that aspect of performance, I don’t have stage fright. I’m very loud, too, and not afraid to say what I think. I’ve been singing my entire life in school and church, but after all of those years and missed chances, there was never a solo. I had done singing auditions before, but I often let my nerves get the best of me, limiting myself in the process.

Once my friends and I started our small business, Enchanted Rose Entertainment, I knew I’d have to sing publicly. I wasn’t sure how I’d measure up to my experienced colleagues, but I was willing to try. After our first party, Chick-fil-a heard about us and booked us for their Princess Night. I was going to have to sing as Belle, in front of a crowded restaurant. Before I could even worry about how scared I would be, I had to pick a song. Immediately, I knew what I had to sing.

Ever since I had heard “Home” from the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, I hoped that one day, I could sing it. This goal seemed at first like a lost dream. How could I sing a song like that? I’d never have the guts or the range. Years later now, I was more experienced, and although I hadn’t tried it before, I had a few weeks to achieve this dream.

Every rehearsal with my mom was getting better and better. My Enchanted Rose partners, Holly and Olivia, were over for a meeting, so I figured I’d give my song a try. It didn’t go so well. I messed up a few times, and my voice wasn’t strong. I didn’t have any confidence. If I couldn’t sing in front of my best friends, how could I sing in front of a herd of strangers?

A few nights before the event, I was home alone and I knew I needed to practice the song, even though I was terrified to face it again. I got my instrumental recording ready, and paused for a minute. This time it had to be different. I could no longer bear to live in this constant state of fear. It was time to sing this song from my heart. I pressed play, and felt the rhythm of the piano notes. As I opened my mouth to sing, I heard my inner’s Belle’s voice, echoing her deepest emotions into my breath. By the end of the song, I had completely transformed into her.

“Build higher walls around me, change every lock and key. Nothings lasts, nothing holds, all of me.”

This fear could no longer limit the power and passion I held within myself. I absolutely loved Belle- she was able to see beauty where others could not, she always stayed true to herself, and she experienced pure love. I could relate to her, as well. Books are always my escape, and sometimes I feel as though the people around me don’t understand me. Her songs have brought me to tears on countless occasions, almost as if Belle is inside of me, weeping for her old home or realizing that she had learned so much during the hardest period of her life.

I finished the song with a sweet silence, followed by a dramatic applause from the rainstorm outside. I could hear the tiny droplets cheering me on, urging me to do this. All it took was the courage to sing from my heart. It had been there all along.


At first, I wanted to end this story with that tender moment, but I realized that had I done so, I wouldn’t have actually completed the tale. I hadn’t officially faced my fear yet. The performance day came, and I was feeling good. There were little nerves, only excitement. We rehearsed and got ready, and before I knew it, we were there in full character. Many of my family and friends stopped by; support was all around me. (For anyone that came, thank you. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish any of this. I’m truly grateful for you all.) The children couldn’t have been sweeter, and I felt honored to bring a little extra magic into their imaginative minds. This was exactly what I lived for.

It was nearing my time to sing, and I heard a little girl say to her father, “I want Belle to sing!” If I hadn’t been in character, that request would’ve brought me to tears. I went over to the girl and said, “Hey, princess! I heard you want me to sing! I’d like to sing my song to you!”  The music started and I got down to her height to sing her the story of how I gave up my freedom for my father’s. At first, it felt like it was only us, but as my song went on, the room increased. I was sharing my experience with the whole restaurant- no fear or nerves, just bare honesty. I was free,and  just like Belle, I was starting a new chapter in my life, a chapter I knew would be worth the read.

Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust,