Sandra Murphy, the Voice Mama™, is an audiobook narrator who voices both fiction and non-fiction books. Her characters include children, adults, giants, robots and a whole host of fairy tale creatures. She has even voiced the big man himself – Santa Claus.
What journey took you to narrating audiobooks?
My first stage experience was in my family room at the age of two, clowning around with a bucket on my head . . . that ended in stitches. I found the theatre stage to be less dangerous and explored my dramatic side on stage throughout high school and college. I found my true home expressing my art through voice over. I know that there is so much more to a story than the words on the page and use my theatrical instincts to bring audiobooks to life. Taking the listener on a journey through a novel is a pure joy.
How did you get the name of Voice Mama™?
“When you need it said right . . . call Mama.” Over time, I have developed a very warm reassuring tone to my voice, so Voice Mama™ suits me quite well. I have taken care of my clients’ spoken needs by voicing educational apps, video games, and videos where a “Mom” voice was required. I’ve enjoyed working in a lot of voice over genres throughout the years but have a very special place in my heart for narrating audiobooks. I love my name, the Voice Mama™, because my kids have even joined me in the studio and have voiced video games and, yes, even an audiobook.
Do you have specific genres or authors you particularly enjoy reading?
Funny story . . . I started listening to audiobooks with my children long before I ever considered voice over as a career. When I played an audiobook in the car, my children were not only interested in the book but also didn’t fight. We enjoy quality narration and often continue talking about the books long after the car ride. Some of our favorite audiobooks are Charlotte’s Web narrated by E.B. White, Upside-Down Magic narrated by Rebecca Soler, and Harry Potter narrated by Jim Dale. Of course, <>Olga by Ted Kelsey and narrated by yours truly is a favorite as well.
As for me, I love a well-written book with beautiful imagery, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. I especially enjoy mysteries.
What is your recording space like?
Once again, I’m lucky to be married to my amazing husband who is also an audio engineer. He designed an acoustically treated professional quality sound booth in our production suite.
What specific roles do you as narrator perform? Do you edit the audiobooks or stick to reading
The roles of a voice over artist are varied: Public Relations, Business Development Manager, Accountant, Actor, Voice Over (recording), Audio Engineer, and Quality Assurance Specialist. As with any entrepreneurial job, we wear many different hats. There’s usually one hat each person enjoys wearing most, and mine is Actor/Voice Over Artist. I love the time I spend in the booth making words fly off the page and come to life for the listener. I’m also an accomplished audio and video editor, so I do edit a lot of my own work.
I’ve heard of three different jobs when it comes to producing audiobooks: narrator, director, and engineer. Can you explain the roles of the three? Do people often do more than just one job?
Narrator: This role brings the story to life. Unique character voices are created to distinguish the main characters, and the voice over artist’s job is to record the story and bring it to life.
Director: This role is to ensure that the different voices for the characters reflect the author’s intension and have continuity over the course of the book.
Engineer: This role is complex. The first step is to proof the book and let the narrator know when she or he has veered away from the author’s written word. The next step is to input the pick-ups from the narrator and edit the spacing so that the overall pacing of the book sounds natural. Then the editing begins with deleting mouth noise, ensuring breath is at an appropriate level and that the audio levels are consistent. There’s a whole lot more to it, but that’s another article on audio editing/mastering.
Yes, many audiobooks are produced by one person who does all three jobs. If you are working with various people on a project such as an author, director and/or engineer, it’s important to be open to different ideas and direction so that the final product truly represents the author’s vision.
You have a lot of theater experience. How does that compare to audio narration, and how has it helped your audio career?
Yes, I have a degree in theatre and have studied stage acting, improv, film, and voice over. I am and have always been an actor. Voice over is acting – first and foremost. It’s the art of being someone else. I continually advise people interested in entering my field that the official job description is VOICE ACTING. You have to know how to act because that is the heart and soul of the job.
What do you most like about performing audiobooks?
Voice over is by far my favorite forum in which to act and become someone else. I love narrating audiobooks since I have the opportunity to “be” multiple characters within one project. When I become a character in the booth, the person’s voice naturally just comes out. I don’t really think about it too much beforehand because I am that character in that moment in time. The heroine says her line and you see the world from her perspective because you are the heroine.
Then the villain says his line and you see the world from his perspective because you are the villain. It’s an amazing journey as a narrator to tell a story from so many different perspectives.
Your website says you love to cook. What are some of your favorite foods to prepare?
Oh, wow, now you’ve done it. You’ll never stop me talking about food so I asked my family to give me some of their favorite dishes that I make: Award- Winning BBQ Ribs, Poblanos Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese, Turkey Chorizo Enchiladas, Meatloaf with Gruyere Scalloped Potatoes, Pizza with Homemade Marinara, Coffee Infused Meringue Cookies and Blueberry Pie. Now, who’s coming over for dinner?
I think I’m first on the waiting list! That sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing with us, Sandra!
You can find the books narrated by Sandra here.