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Christina Aguilera is sharing her voice with the whole class. The MasterClass, that is.
The Grammy-winning singer’s latest project — an online education tutorial for aspiring singers — is available for pre-order on the MasterClass platform, a home for expert education classes from the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Serena Williams, James Patterson, Usher and more.
The company announced the news Tuesday, along with news that the platform has secured $15 million in Series B funding, led by New Enterprise Associates, as well as a previously undisclosed $4.5 million Series A led by Javelin Venture Partners and two seed rounds totaling $1.9 million led by Harrison Metal.
According to the company, the funding will be used to expand instructor base and for general business growth. NEA’s Rick Yang will join the board of directors. Also included on the investor list is Bloomberg Beta, Novel TMT Ventures, Advancit Capital, WME Ventures, Downey Ventures, Usher, Yan-David Erlich and Matthew Rutler. Rutler is Aguilera’s fiance and the founder of MX Investments. He also serves as executive vp of talent and business development at MasterClass in addition to being a key investor.
As part of her new gig as an instructor with MasterClass, Aguilera is offering a special technology treat — “Christina Aguilera’s Vocal Range Finder,” which will allow students to examine their vocal range. The Hollywood Reporter talked to Aguilera about why she got involved and whose MasterClass she would sign up for.
Why did you decide to partner with MasterClass?
I met the people involved and I really felt confident that this is such a positive and great thing to do to allow people to have access to. It’s a class or courses being taught by the greats in what they do, in the fields they’ve been successful in. I want to take Kevin’s [Spacey] course, for sure. He has a such an interesting and layered craft. See, you’re getting courses with best of the best in the comfort of wherever you want to learn from — in your own space and on your own time. Allowing yourself the time to explore your passion is amazing. And at a great price. My experience with The Voice has also helped lead me to this place.
I know that some of the other MasterClass artists are also investors. Is that the case with you?
That’s something I don’t like to talk about. That’s not my motivation. I really believe in the concept, and I’m really passionate about it.
When you sat down to start selecting coursework or a program, what are the specific lessons you wanted to include?
I’m interested in and passionate about many different things and I wanted [the course] to reflect that. I can be very eclectic and switch genres. I can sing anything from Andrea Bocelli and Puff Daddy to The Rolling Stones and Dave Navarro to something more obscure and ballad-esque. Being half-Spanish myself, that’s also an important part of my journey. Ultimately, I’m giving my own experiences, my experiences of working with other artists, specific stories from my journey that others can learn from. When I first came on the scene, I wasn’t doing music what I personally wanted to do or music that was necessarily as heartfelt. I had a monster record, but I had to go in and work with other producers [later] to figure out musically what kind of artist I wanted to be and how to show my true self. Having to fight to be my own person and my own artist, I’ve learned a lot, so I’ll be sharing that to help others be able to come out the other side after the course, hopefully understanding themselves better without having had to sandpaper their way through.
If MasterClass existed when you were starting out, whose class would you liked to have taken?
Definitely Whitney [Houston]. She’s the ultimate to me. Her and Etta James, both of whom are no longer with us. I would want that raw grit and soul and authenticity. Etta James had such raw vocal ability, and Whitney had this effortless vibrato with an amazing pop technicality.
What about now? What MasterClass would you want to take, in any discipline?
It would definitely be actors. Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet — these amazing actresses who I adore. And Charlize Theron. Sean Penn, another great actor. Acting is something I have yet to fully explore. It always fascinates me because I haven’t had a meaty role to fully sink my teeth into yet. It’s an amazing skill set to have.
So does that mean you’re looking for another acting project right now?
I would love to do another film. And there’s so much great TV out there. So, yeah definitely. Absolutely. That’s why it’s very nice to get breaks from [The Voice], so I can spend time seeing what else is out there. But first and foremost, up next for me is getting my next record finished.
You teased new music last fall. What’s the latest with that?
I’ve been loosely working on it the last couple of years. But I really started toward the middle and end of last year to really buckle down and meet with new collaborators and producers, people I want to work with and people I have never worked with before. I can’t say much about it yet because I want to wait until it’s good and ready. I am working on it and will be ready when it can be the authentic masterpiece that it deserves to be. But later this year, most likely.
Teaching isn’t too much of a stretch from what you do on The Voice. I know you’re back for Season 10. Seems you’ve found a rhythm that works taking a break. Will you stay long-term?
I’m not sure. It takes a lot of work to be on that show. It’s really taken off from the first season and found its groove. It’s very much on autopilot now and it’s good. The family keeps growing. My art and my music have to come first, and sometimes the show can take too much time away from what I need to do for my soul. But what I do enjoy is the coaching. Sitting in the chair can be so much stagnant energy for me and I need to get up and do my own art and get the creative juices flowing. So I can’t say for sure.
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