Belmont Alumnae Lend their Voices to Disney's 'Wish'

sheet music from Wish
College of Music & Performing Arts

Belmont Alumnae Lend their Voices to Disney's 'Wish'

April 3, 2024 | by Haley Charlton

sarah-margaret-and-jessica.jpegThough alumnae Jessica Rau (‘03) and Sarah Margaret Huff (‘13) came to Belmont as vocal commercial music majors a full decade apart, they magically found themselves working together last year as vocal talent for Disney’s major motion picture “Wish.” 

The two took their own unique paths from Belmont’s campus to wind up on the same scoring stage, sharing a room with composers Julia Michaels and Benjamin Rice, Ariana DeBose who plays the lead and a group of other professional singers. As part of the ensemble, they contributed to songs like “Welcome to Rosas,” "Knowing What I Know Now" and “Wish (Reprise).” 

“Jobs like this don’t come up very often because animation movies like this usually take years to make. I was over the moon when I got the call,” Sarah Margaret explained.  

Jessica added that the session was a rare opportunity. “The contractor told us that we had been chosen, not to sing and blend in as part of a choir or ensemble, but for our unique, individual voices. We sang as the townspeople, so it was meant to sound like a group of individuals with distinct voices.”  

wish-recording.jpgSarah Margaret said this was the first time she’d ever done a Disney movie in a studio of this scale. “There were so many cool moments,” she recalled. “They brought in Ariana DeBose (even though she wasn’t needed from a technical perspective). It was all of us surrounding her while she did this very vulnerable take during a pivotal part of the movie, and she’s kind of tearing up while we’re listening. And then we all come in together, and there’s an energy that’s just unquantifiable. We captured what people refer to as ‘room magic,’ or an energy that’s captured beyond a technical perspective.” 

“I’ve worked with Disney in a few capacities, but ‘Wish’ was their biggest movie of the year. It was a big deal,” Jessica emphasized. “I know many people who are still looking for that first gig, and I’ve been lucky enough to have several really cool gigs. So, I’m extremely grateful and just want to keep showing up, doing a good job and have them continue to call me.”  

The Journey to L.A. 

Jessica embarked on a unique journey that led her across the world before settling in Los Angeles. After graduating and taking a job in corporate communications, she was looking for a way to travel and expand her experiences. She connected with an old friend who set her up with a job performing at a theme park in South Korea, and she ultimately took on some recording work for English educational materials on her days off. Despite the market for English education voiceover work in South Korea, Jessica began to feel like a big fish in a small pond doing that full time for six years.  


“I figured I’d try the big leagues in L.A.,” she recalled. Her experience in Seoul prepared her well, and for the last 12 years she has been doing recording work, both voiceover and studio singing, for films, TV shows, video games and, most regularly, background vocals for Kidz Bop. 

Meanwhile, Sarah Margaret graduated from Belmont and worked for CMT for a year before going on tour with Matt Davenport's "Live from Nashville" and Janelle Arthur. At that point she felt the call to move to L.A. and take on her own slew of jobs, including singing, songwriting and performing.  

“I just wanted to work in a ton of different genres and mediums, and I have been able to have all sorts of jobs through friends and connections I’ve made during my nine years here,” Sarah Margaret said.  

Her career has led her to work on a variety of creative projects, whether it’s a studio session she lends her talents to or her own band JEMS, which has gone on tour with She & Him and has a new album coming out this summer. 

Both women emphasized that getting the job with “Wish” was due to the network of relationships and other jobs worked, leading them both to encourage students or other industry hopefuls to say “yes” to as much as possible because one job will lead to the next. 

The Belmont Foundation 


Their experiences from "Wish" underscore the value of their Belmont education and the connections they forged within the industry. 

Jessica said she felt prepared by her Belmont education to be successful in the kind of work she does today. “Being a studio singer is a specific skill set, and much of what I learned at Belmont is what I use every day now,” she explained.  

She continued to talk about the various tactics she uses in her work – what she listens for, singing in other languages, learning recording technology, etc — and the classes she took to hone those skills. “I use [those] all the time now, and every time I’m like ‘ah, thanks Belmont,’” she laughed. “The amount of time I spent in recording studios at Belmont gave me so much more comfort behind the microphone, which is where I spend most of my life now.” 

She also discussed growing up as a “choir kid” and “feeling snobby about the way the correct way to sing.” However, her Belmont faculty gently encouraged her explore other parts of her voice that she uses all the time now as she takes on the voices of characters and specific roles. For example, before her work on “Sing” and “Sing 2,” her contractor asked her to send a demo of herself singing a Beyonce song like a chipmunk (she recorded this in her closet, sent it over and booked the part). 

“I love that Belmont is not a classical conservatory. I mean, there’s a great classical foundation, but Belmont really trains musicians who are going to work in the world,” Jessica added. “Belmont trains people as fine artists with the technical skills needed, but I gained a much broader view of the multiple ways that a person can be a working musician. Belmont fostered my individual interests in talent and path, and I love that about my experience.” 

In the same vein, Sarah Margaret agreed that her time singing in Belmont’s numerous ensembles – from Session to Women’s Choir to Company – helped her gain the skills needed to jump in and sing with whoever she’s with or attuned to whoever is directing. She added that the relationships she made in the music program have been assets to her that have lifted her up in the real world.  

“Belmont was a safe incubator to try things out and look toward the future with a community of like-minded people and friends that still exist for me today,” she said. “I made lifelong friends that have helped me along my journey.”