Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Voice's Carry (Q&A with Rosie Williams)

Rosie Williams, owner of

BENNINGTON -- A new Web-based business called Vermont on the Cheap (@VTontheCheap) tweeted to This is Vermont (@THISISVT) and that piqued Art Gallery Dude's curiosity because he never noticed the handle, so he followed @VTontheCheap then introduced himself and Fiddlehead at Four Corners to the effect of 'Next time you're in Bennington stop into Fiddlehead' and yadda yadda.

The response arrived faster than AGD expected ...

... which led to this ...

... which led to this ...

... which led to this story about Fiddlehead's weekend savings.

And that, bubba, is how relationships are born in New Business 101.

Rosie Williams may be a cheap chick who looks sweet as an orchid, but she impressed the bosses with her sleuthing skills and attention to detail in the article she wrote. Instead of using a link he sent her to explain the book chronicling Fiddlehead's Graffiti Vault, Rosie found an event AGD posted on a website in December and used that link instead. 

Well done, Rosie. You'd make a fine reporter.

In a way, she is.

AGD returned the favor by Googling Rosie Williams and learned a great deal. The following Q&A introduces a multi-media star with vast skills -- and, of course, a great voice.

Art Gallery Dude: Who is Rosie Williams, what is her background in media, and why did she create

Rosie Williams: I've worked as a freelance writer for the last 20 years, writing for national magazines such as USA Weekend, Woman's Day, AARP the magazine and others. Regional niche publications include Sheep! Magazine, AAA Missouri Traveler, Arizona Parenting and more. A shift in the publishing industry and personal events made me look to other streams of income; my interest in voiceover work led me to study it in depth in 2010.

A fellow writer and entrepreneur, Teresa Mears, was interested in expanding the network of Living on the Cheap. Although most Living on the Cheap sites highlight deals in specific cities, I felt that Vermont's population would need a broader focus. So we created Vermont on the Cheap. And it's a good fit for me as I am a lifelong penny pincher. I work hard to live within my means, but I also feel that fun has to be a part of the budget. Happiness doesn't have to be expensive -- only priceless.

AGD: Your resume at LinkedIn is lengthy and impressive, and your personal website features an endearing self-branding line ...

From the printed word to the spoken word,
it's always Rosie!

... what kind of response do you get from that line?

RW: Not any direct response. But it does illustrate who I am on many levels. I think outside the proverbial box but work within the guidelines of the client. I am interested in giving the client the best possible result, whether I am submitting a research-based article or voicing a script for a commercial. Success, in my opinion, is not about money -- it is when both parties walk away satisfied and willing to work together on future projects.

AGD: You have a strong yet soothing and warm yet energetic voice on your demos, from the harried housewife to the best friend to the favorite aunt to business executive. You probably could pull off the oddball neighbor. How does one know when his or her voice is so dynamic that it can bring home the bacon and cook it too?

RW: Thanks! I just enjoy it! And voiceover work isn't always about the stereotypical rocker voice on radio. It is excitement, emotion, inflection, character building -- it's very much like writing in that sense. Some of the best voices sound like they could be your neighbor, your wife or your best friend. Paul Harvey comes to mind as an example.

(Note: Rosie submitted these answers before the Super Bowl, which featured Paul Harvey voicing the "So God made a farmer" narrative during the Dodge Ram commercial.)

AGD: What is your favorite voiceover?

RW: Wow -- there are so many! Don LaFontaine ("In a world ... "). Julie Kavner, who is the voice of Marge Simpson and her two sisters. There are voices that you recognize, and there are artists who have a large portfolio of character voices and the listener never knows the origin of the voice. And voiceover work doesn't end with commercials or animated films. The telephone voices who say "For English, press one"; the person who tells you to "mind the gap" on the London tube; the voice of your GPS system.

AGD: How would you approach a voiceover for Fiddlehead?

RW: Fiddlehead at Four Corners has an eclectic feel, from the fine art to the graffiti room, and you have a wide range of customers. The message has to appeal to the customer. What kind of mood do you want to give -- funky, stylish, excited, upscale? Once you have established that, then you can pick a voice to convey the mood.

AGD: Vermont is ______.

RW: Vermont is a state of mind!

AGD: Vermont is not ______.

RW: Vermont is not a cookie cutter state -- and we should work to keep it that way.

AGD: What do you love most about Bennington?

RW: Bennington was my first view of Vermont back in 1990. I stayed at the Stafford Inn, and the next day announced I would be living here some day. 15 years later I wound up in teh Hoosick Falls area of New York, but always called Bennington my community. I moved there in late 2008. I am in Central Vermont now but still visit Bennington.

AGD: What does Bennington need to do to join the 21st century?

RW: I won't pretend to know what the right answers are for Bennington regarding the 21st century. I am not political and definitely not a capitalist. I work from love and kindness -- I think if we keep it as our primary focus instead of money, then comfort, community and overall happiness follow along.

(Note: This is where AGD asked Williams about an article she wrote for Natural Solutions Magazine -- about "Harmful Hand Sanitizers" -- but he hasn't been able to locate the article, so onto the next question.)

AGD: Sheep! Magazine ... what's up with that?

RW: Great editor, for one! Nathan Griffith is a wonderful, kind spirit. And I love the animal. I did a story for him years ago -- I can't remember the specific focus but it was about sheep -- and it was the beginning of a happy business relationship. I wound up specializing in articles on dairy sheep.

AGD: You've written words for print, you've spoken words for radio ... will you perform words for TV? Why or why not?

RW: I am open to every new adventure, and trust that the universe will bring whatever is right for me.

AGD: Do you like the idea of live-streaming on

RW: At some point it might be a great addition! For now we're still introducing ourselves to all the wonderful Vermont-owned businesses out there. We want to stay on track with our mission -- to bring the best of Vermont to our readers.

AGD: Advice for the non-Vermonter: It's mid-fall, colors ablaze, and you and your loved one want to spend 3 or 4 days in Vermont. The 3 places the couple MUST hit are ________ and _________ and _________ ... and why?

RW: The Shires, both North and South (Bennington included!). Routes 7 and 7A. The Northeast Kingdom. Lake Champlain and the valley area. And I have to say that Interstate 89 is one of the prettiest interstates in the nation. No billboards, great landscape, and even the rest stops are inviting.

(Indeed, I-89 was engineered to satisfy a driver's heart of hearts; as was Route 9 from Bennington to Brattleboro and back, and Route 11/30 from Manchester to Springfield and back. If you want a pure driving experience you come to Vermont for a few days. And, yes, those rest stops no doubt are stocked with perfectly good hand sanitizer.)

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