Inside the Cruise Profile: Clara Oman, Disney Cruise Line Entertainer
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
There’s cruise ship entertainment, and then there’s Disney Cruise Line entertainment. And then there’s Clara Oman – the best of the best of the best. When my dad and I first sailed aboard the newly reimagined Disney Magic in 2014, little did we know that we would discover the phenomenal talent and personality of Clara, who we’ve crossed paths with many times now onboard Disney and also Norwegian Cruise Line. She is a phenomenal performer who puts her wonderfully positive spin and style on piano and vocal covers as well as original pieces.
Just check out this video of her “Clarified” version of “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” our first ever impression of her music, hosted at my Popular Cruising YouTube channel and embedded below to start.
Since first meeting Clara, my family and I have attended her cabaret shows on the Disney Magic and Disney Fantasy and even met up with her briefly for a day visit aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America while docked in Hawaii. We have since become close friends, and my mom and I had the opportunity to chat with her extensively on the first “Star Wars” Day at Sea cruise to bring you a profile of her here, describing her journey as a person and cruise ship entertainer.
And just for the record, even though she loves science fiction, she is not intrinsically a “Star Wars” fan. “I’m becoming one. I’m becoming a believer. I didn’t grow up with it,” she says, but, “I cried like four times in the new [film]…I just related…That’s art. It was whatever it means to you, that’s exactly what it’s designed for.”
As to her start in music, Clara says, “I was singing before I was speaking, so music I consider to be my first language. And I was just fortunate enough that there was a piano in my house that we were renting when I was two-and-a-half, and I just started picking things out that I was hearing around the house. And my parents would sing, and so I was just playing by ear.”
Remarkably, neither of her parents really played piano. She self-taught anyway, and her parents put her in lessons to develop her ear. She has perfect pitch, and while listening to the music playing in the background, says, “like I know what these notes are just by hearing them. So, I developed that. And then I also learned to read music, but I don’t read music. Even though I learned, I don’t. It’s just not my way of learning.”
Instead, she now simply listens to music to add more to her repertoire – which she estimates includes around 400 songs, played from memory, in high rotation. She adds to the list of numbers she says, “when I hear something that really speaks to me” or it is highly requested, like “Let It Go.” “That one I learned right away,” she adds. “I’m tending to gravitate currently towards just more positive music. It makes me feel good to sing it.”
Earlier on, her first foray into performing was in a nondenominational Christian church and school, where her dad was a Bible teacher and principal, playing for chapel and singing harmonies with him since she was eight. Later in life, she admits she went off the deep end, struggling with a divorce and addiction, but is grateful to come out of it all alive, unlike other artists like say Amy Winehouse. She doesn’t go to church anymore, but she does connect spiritually through daily meditations.
Cruise Ship Life
When asked how she got started onboard, Clara recalls, “they found me. I went to an agent that books all different cruise lines, and they put out my video to all kinds of different companies. And Norwegian and Disney both picked me up.” Her very first cruise ship was the Norwegian Gem, and now she primarily alternates between the Disney Fantasy in the Caribbean and the Disney Magic in Europe.
Although she aspires to record with a major label and has even auditioned for “The Voice,” she feels blessed by the opportunity to affect so many people’s lives one-on-one at sea, saying, “I cherish this season. This is the best three years of my life. It’s amazing.” In particular, she loves the setting. She adds, “it’s very unique that you would share an environment with your audience for a week at a time, that I would meet you guys one night and then see you again tomorrow and maybe a few days later. That is very special.”
Photo courtesy Clara Oman
Likewise, she appreciates the chance to share her journey with her family, parents who supported her through rough times, and friends. “I had the opportunity to take my parents to St. Petersburg, Russia and Norway and give them the time of their lives. Like they can’t believe it,” she says. “They are so proud of me.”
Whether she’s sharing her stateroom with family or friends, she finds how different people choose to cruise fascinating. Her cousin, for instance, is a social butterfly frequenting the bars, and her cousin likes finding a quiet place to read and then enjoy Disney’s signature rotational dining rooms where she feels like royalty. Alternatively, her parents are content to enjoy simpler dining to grab some pizza and fruit, that takes less time than the restaurants, and sit down to watch a movie.
Onboard the Disney Fantasy, Clara performs in the central atrium and La Piazza in Europa, and on the Disney Magic, she plays in Keys. She also conducts fun musical trivia sessions and accompanies weddings onboard or at Disney’s Castaway Cay private island. Also, her excellent cover and original music is available to be purchased in the gift shops or online through her website.
Making a Difference
Ultimately, she wants to make a positive impact on people with her music. During her free time she is working on recording 44 short inspirational songs under her new brand, Jolly Jingle. She says they could be for anyone or kids like one titled “I’m Learning Something New Everyday.” She explains, “It’s just a small song to get into your head like a positive message.”
She has struggled with depression so has used them to help stay happy and healthy and even quit smoking. “They’re literally kind of mental health tools in a way,” she says. “You have to find that self motivation to either exercise, or you have to find that motivation to keep yourself believing that you can keep yourself feeling positive. So, I just feel like this is something obviously that it’s not just about me. I’ve been writing these for other people too.”
She eventually wants to tour with the jingles and take them to hospitals and schools. She also looks forward to future opportunities to promote them in commercials or as positive products in much the same way that Joel Osteen presents his books. She says a lot of people have told her that they’ve lost weight to her music, and “I really hope that they help a lot of people because they really helped me.”
She concludes that the higher path of living is, “being honest, being kind and generous…It’s just love each other…That’s where my heart is.” And you can get another taste of her uplifting music in the form of a creative Christmas song mashup recorded live to accompany my Very Merrytime Cruises Disney sailing review video below.
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