Scrubs to soprano: City GP sees opera success in sunshine state

Soprano singer Harriet Fraser

Soprano singer Harriet Fraser - Credit: Harriet Fraser

A former doctor who swapped the surgery for the stage is releasing her first album recorded in LA during lockdown. 

Harriet Fraser, who was born off Earlham Road, Norwich, and grew up in Bracondale, now lives in Santa Monica, California, after moving across the pond in 2008 with her film-maker husband.

Harriet has always loved singing and music, having been taught how to play cello from the age of eight while she attended Thorpe Hamlet Middle and the Hewett School.

As a pupil she also joined choirs and orchestras around the county.

Soprano singer Harriet Fraser

Harriet Fraser when she was a GP - Credit: Harriet Fraser

Ms Fraser, who has three children, trained as a doctor in London and Oxford and practised as a GP until her move to America.

But she stopped it because of extra costs of training in the US and the pressures of juggling family and singing professionally.

The performer, who retrained at Music College while working as a doctor, then created her album Peace in her converted garage during lockdown.

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She said: "I couldn't be a doctor but I could do something to help people mentally and bring some peace. I wanted to give people a way to forget about everything. I wanted the songs to calm people in a crazy situation."

Harriet Fraser's album cover

Harriet Fraser's album cover - Credit: Harroet Fraser

The soprano said it was the case of experimenting with recording and editing equipment bought in the lockdown.

She had a message for budding musicians: "If you are passionate about something you should pursue it. It was a leap of faith using the recording equipment. You need to experiment because you don't know where it will take you."

Ms Fraser added: "I have always been connected to music from the first time I heard it. It is spiritual and calms me down."

The singer said she is thankful to the early skills she picked up while growing up in Norwich, including sight-reading, which involves singing a song from looking at notes on a manuscript without having learnt them beforehand.

This has helped her land jobs for singing in films including vocals on Frozen and Star Wars.

Ms Fraser said she had not closed the door on her medical career and said she was sad to leave it.

Harriet Fraser

Harriet Fraser - Credit: Harriet Fraser

What is hardest song to sing?

Ms Fraser said she is inspired by all kinds of music but will always love classical pieces.

She said the hardest opera song to perform were works by Mozart.

Ms Fraser explained: "Some are deceptively simple but some are not, including the Queen of the Night aria from the Magic Flute. The precision you need to sing them is second to none."

Her favourite pieces to sing included works by French composer Gabriel Faure and she also loved listening to and performing classical English pieces.

But as well as the classical composers, she also enjoyed listening to contemporary and more  recent artists.

"I love Lady Gaga, Adele and Eva Cassidy. I love strong female artists," she added.

Ms Fraser was looking forward to putting out more music - her album can be found on Spotify.

Norwich's Harriet Fraser producing her debut album Peace from her makeshift studio in California

Norwich's Harriet Fraser producing her debut album Peace from her makeshift studio in California - Credit: Harriet Fraser Music