Stage fright is not an option for Teri Ross, national vice president of client services for LeasePlan USA — a role that frequently requires her to speak in front of an audience. Luckily for Ross, she’s no stranger to the spotlight; as a singer, actress, and musician, she’s used to being in front of a crowd.
Most recently, Ross performed on stage as an extra with the Baltimore Opera Company for two seasons. In one production, she played a nun in the opera, Tosca. Earlier, she played a lotus leaf dancer and a dragon in the opera Turandot.
According to Ross, her performing experience helps with her LeasePlan duties. “Having to memorize the training material, and presenting with the appearance that I’m comfortable talking off the top of my head — rather than from memory — keeps me engaged and enjoying the time in front of people,” Ross said.
A little stage fright does creep up sometimes in the beginning, but it doesn’t last very long. “Being on stage takes me to a higher level of energy brought on by the audience; lights; and the sights, sounds, and smell of the theater,” she said. “I feel the energy rush and nervousness prior to performing, but, once on stage, I am comfortable and happy to be there.”
Several of Ross’ fleet industry colleagues have watched her perform with the Baltimore Opera Company. “Their comments were around the wonderful singing they heard and the amount of energy and activity they saw on stage,” Ross said. “They told me they understood why I enjoy performing so much.”
Ross has performed in bigger stage roles, as well. She appeared mainly in Baltimore-area dinner theaters with productions such as Guys and Dolls and The Sound of Music. Ross isn’t a one-act performer, she has also performed as a musician — on the oboe and saxophone and sang as a soloist.
Talent in the Family
Ross’ talent runs in the family. Her maternal grandfather and his four brothers were singers. Her paternal grandmother was also a singer. Following in their footsteps, she started on the piano as a child, and learned the oboe in junior high school. Wanting to be in the marching band, she continued playing the oboe, but expanded her horizons and learned a marching band instrument, the alto saxophone.
“Then, I was in the jazz band, so I played alto, soprano, and tenor sax. High school was when I started singing, as well,” Ross said.
She sang and took voice lessons, both while performing in her high school production of The Miracle Worker in the lead role of Helen Keller — her most memorable role. “Helen Keller was an amazing woman, and it was a part that I enjoyed researching and performing,” she recalled.
At the time, Ross also performed in classical theater. In addition to the high school productions, she played saxophone and clarinet in the pit orchestra.
She continued her musical education at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore as an oboe performance major before landing her Guys and Dolls and Sound of Music roles. She later switched her focus to singing and earned a music management degree from Towson State University in Towson, Md.
After college, she went into the business world and worked for PHH Arval in client services and business development. While with PHH, she worked singing as a soloist in her church choir. In 2010, after moving on to her current role at LeasePlan USA, she sang with the choir for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Ross has plans to continue with music. “Music is my true passion,” she said. “It’s difficult to express in words the feeling and sense of joy and fulfillment that music gives me.”