Potomac Sophomore reflects on earning lead singing role in popular Netflix series

Ella Adamec, Staff Writer

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in the music industry or to be part of the production of a film or commercial? Potomac sophomore Pippa Westland did, too. Previously mentioned in Paw Prints, Pippa auditioned and earned the role to sing vocals for the main theme song of the second season of Netflix’s popular The Haunting series

Though this was Pippa’s first professional role, she is not at all new to music. Pippa is very involved with singing at Potomac, participating in both musicals as an Intermediate School student and singing in the choir since Middle School. 

“The first time I had a big solo was in 6th grade chorus at the Thanksgiving Assembly. I also had the opening solo as one of the nuns in The Sound of Music when I was in 7th grade.”

Her passion for music also extends beyond Potomac’s campus. 

“I started voice lessons in 8th grade and am still taking lessons. I mainly work on Broadway, classical, and opera music. I sing in English, Italian, German, French, and Spanish, all of which I’ve learned from my voice teacher except Spanish, which I have been taking in school for eight years,” she said.  

Pippa’s years of experience enabled her to take ahold of this unique Netflix opportunity. She heard about this opportunity from her mom’s friend from college, Hollywood film and television composer Andy Grush, who worked on the film score for the second season of the series, The Haunting of Bly Manor. Fun fact, Grush was also a music student of Pippa’s grandmother. What an interesting coincidence!

“Andy saw me on my mom’s Facebook and asked if I wanted to try out because they were looking for girls between 7-15 years old to audition,” she explained. 

Pippa’s interview process to earn the role was extensive.

“I auditioned for the singing part in the main title sequence, which required me to record parts of the music at home and send it in,” Pippa said.

She describes her reaction to earning the role as shocking, but not extremely surprising. 

“My mom got a text from Grush, saying that they really liked my voice, and it was perfect for the show. Mike Flanagan, the film’s director, did a lot of convincing to get me the role because there was some delay in my paperwork due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Pippa added.

The Haunting of Bly Manor tells the chilling story of an American au pair caring for two orphaned siblings in an old English mansion called Bly Manor. The show features popular actors Victoria Pedretti, Kate Siegel, and Henry Thomas, otherwise known for his role as Elliot in E.T. 

“The non-spoiler version of the show is that it’s a love story, which you don’t see at first glance. Although there is romance, the theme of platonic love and relationships play a huge role as well,” said Pippa.

Since the show’s second season centers on a new storyline, composer Grush explained that their main goal in score-writing for the new season was to find a balance between expanding on and incorporating themes from season one.

“We ultimately decided we wanted a singer for the main titles because it worked better for the storyline. We were inspired by a score from The Innocents where a child sings with the music, and Pippa’s voice worked really well with this idea. We wanted a more sincere and angelic voice. Our goal is never for the music in the show to stand out, but rather support what the actors are doing and have a minor but important presence,” Mr. Grush said.

To hear Pippa’s voice and witness Grush’s work, go watch The Haunting of Bly Manor and pay close attention to the spooky main theme. 

The Haunting of Bly Manor was released on Netflix on October 9th to join its first season, The Haunting of Hill House.