She once traveled the world — Paris, Rome and Vienna — to sing as characters in operas.

But Columbus native Julianna Jerome-Drerup takes the stage Friday for the first time in six years to sing as herself — a mom who’s passionate about her children, her creativity and her craft. On posters she made, she has affixed the tag line: “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to call your mom.”

“I wanted to explore music that I never had explored before,” said Jerome-Drerup, 43. “And I realized there are lots of mom characters from musicals — in fact, way more than I ever could have imagined.

“And I wanted to find things that many people probably have never heard before.”

Story continues below gallery

The veteran vocalist teams with pianist Dianne Sprunger for a timely, Mother’s Day weekend, 75-minute recital, “Mother Knows Best: Songs of Motherhood From the Stage and Screen” at Fridays at First, the free monthly concert series at First United Methodist Church, 618 Eighth St. in Columbus.

Ten of the songs she has prepared are ones she had previously never knew existed. Plus, the performance marks something of a comeback for the singer who has been devoted to private voice students and her family the past several years.

Just before she came home in 2000, she turned down a full-time opera company gig in Germany.

Jerome-Drerup’s final local performances surfaced with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, performing Carl Orff’s “Carmina Purana” in April 2010 and George Gershwin’s “Summertime” in April 2008. She has been either selecting or rehearsing music for this show since November.

It’s been an exciting period for the 1991 Columbus East High School graduate, although not so much for her young daughters Hannah and Abigail.

“Right now, I think my kids are ready to stop hearing me sing at home,” she said, laughing.

Tunes will include “ Baby Mine,” from “Dumbo”; “Here Alone,” from “Little Women”; “When There’s No One,” from “Carrie”; “I Want It All,” from “Baby”; “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer,” from “The Rink”; and “Mother Knows Best,” from “Tangled.”

The singer feels certain that the emotions and sentiments will touch hearts far beyond those in mother mode. Although Jerome-Drerup regularly sang for opera audiences of 3,000 to 4,000 people with few nerves, she acknowledged that singing for a hometown group of people who knows her too well seems a bit daunting — especially when she is generally unaccustomed to presenting Broadway material.

“This is entirely different for me,” she said. “Classical music always has been where I’m comfortable.”

Columbus native and current opera performer Jane Dutton, who has performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and worldwide, heard Jerome-Drerup sing a few months ago as a group of local professional vocalists prepped Brown Music Scholarship contest entrants.

“I thought Julianna did a lovely job,” said Dutton, who personally has heard and worked alongside some of the best voices in the business.

She’s happy to see Jerome-Drerup return to performing.

“I definitely think that it’s great she’s doing this,” said Dutton, now an associate professor of vocal music at Indiana University. “Besides entertaining, I think it’s so important for her students to see firsthand a performer at her level. It usually makes vocal students listen even more (to instruction). It makes them listen on a whole different level.”

Several of Jerome-Drerup’s voice students will join her for some of the songs.

She is uncertain where this performance will lead. The singer has battled physical challenges in recent years to rediscover her musical gift but would like to do more Broadway.

“I’m perfectly happy that being a mom is my career now, though,” she said.

Finding her voice again

Who: Columbus native and former opera veteran Julianna Jerome-Drerup with pianist Dianne Sprunger in a recital, “Mother Knows Best: Songs of Motherhood From the Stage and Screen,” highlighting 75 minutes of Broadway and other tunes as part of the Fridays at First concert series.

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Where: First United Methodist Church, 618 Eighth St. in Columbus.

Admission: Free.


Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.