Sing It Loud - An East Bay singing competition is supporting vocalists worldwide

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

By Matt Larson

Everyone needs support to follow their dreams, and few understand that more than James Toland. He’s been a private voice teacher here in the Bay Area for more than 30 years, and has served as a master teacher, clinician, and vocal coach for a wide variety of choruses in the greater Bay Area.

Knowing firsthand what it takes to make it as a singer, in 2010 he decided to create James Toland Vocal Arts, Inc., or JTVA, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to supporting singers who are working to achieve professional success. “My mission for JTVA is to celebrate singing, and singers,” Toland said. “I want them to be encouraged to sing, and to study singing, and to keep at it.”

We spoke with Dorian Chong, a JTVA board member and mother of an aspiring singer who trained with Toland for years. “I have a daughter who pursued a career in opera, so I know how difficult it can be,” she said. “It’s a hard lifestyle; so it just feels good to me, and to the people in this organization, that we can do something positive to encourage and assist these brave individuals who are launching themselves into a career in opera.”

Based in Oakland, JTVA functions as a yearly competition open to singers from all around the world. Each year 14 finalists are selected to compete in t