Mansfield News

March 24, 2014

Mansfield native finds his voice

YouTube video of Disney impersonations launches college student to fame.

When Brian Hull unleashed the animated voices in his head, the world listened -- and liked.

At press time, the YouTube video of the Mansfield High School graduate singing “Let It Go” with impersonations of almost two dozen Disney and Pixar characters had more than 8.4 million views. But it nearly didn’t happen, he said.

“I almost didn’t post it because I didn’t think it was good enough,” said Hull, who is a vocal student at Dallas Baptist University. “I just posted it for friends and family.”

Fortunately for Hull, his friends and family started sharing the video of his unique version of the song from Disney’s feature film “Frozen.”

Hull, 22, came up with the idea for the video a couple of weeks ago to win a $100 Disney gift card. Although he and his roommate recorded and edited the video in less than a day, he missed the contest deadline. He might be getting a much bigger payoff, however.

“Disney contacted me and said they were very impressed and want me to come for an audition,” Hull said.

That would be a dream come true for Hull, who has loved the studio’s animated characters since he was a child.

“I’m nervous, excited, I’m thinking I’m going to wake up and realize they didn’t contact me,” he said.

Thanks to the video, Hull has had other offers, numerous interviews and wound up signing autographs when he tried to eat lunch at DBU.

Hull started doing impersonations when he was a kid and didn’t realize that it was a big deal.

“I thought everybody else could do it because I could,” he said. “Ever since then, I’ve just been a party trick. I tried to write down how many voices I could do once. I got to 150 and stopped.”

His favorites are Scooby Doo -- his first impression -- and Winnie the Pooh, which is the toughest, he says. In the video, Hull impersonates 21 characters, ranging from the Lion King’s Scar to Minnie Mouse.

“I had to laugh when I saw the video,” said Carlene Wadley, who was Hull’s vocal coach for five years. “He used to do those faces and voices for me all the time. He’s incredible with accents.”

His parents say they never know who is going to answer when they ask him a question.

“When he was in the seventh or eighth grade, he used to answer me in a voice and I used to get on to him,” said his mom, Melody Hull, who teaches second grade at Willie Brown Elementary. “Then he learned how to use it and it was funny.”

His dad agrees.

“Sometimes it would drive you nuts,” said Keith Hull, who is vice president of operations at Oncor. “We’d hear all these sounds coming out of his room. We’d go check on him to see if he was OK.”

Impersonating animated characters isn’t Hull’s only talent, though. The staff at DBU expects to hear Mickey Mouse giggle from the back of the classroom now -- “When I get a new (teacher), it always takes them for a loop,” Hull says -- but they were speechless when he auditioned for them.

As an incoming freshman, Hull sang “Why Do the Nations Rage” from Handel’s Messiah.

“I had never heard a high school singer do that,” said Wes Moore, chair of the music department at DBU and Hull’s private voice coach. “Most high school students don’t sing Messiah arias period. That’s usually for more seasoned performers.”

The lyric baritone is so gifted that he could have his choice of whether to sing on Broadway, opera or any other type of music, Moore said. Hull’s technical skills, thanks to Wadley and his music teachers in Mansfield, are incredible, he said.

“The future for him is amazingly bright, not just because of the video,” Moore said. “He’s multigifted, a fine singer with great vocal technique, a great actor with great comic talent.

“He’s got a unique set of people skills,” Moore continued. “You can be talented, but if you can’t get along with people, you will not have a career. When you put all that together, it forms an impressive package. The sky is the limit.”

Moore’s only concern is that Hull has too many talents and might not be able to focus on one.

His parents don’t seem concerned.

“He can use those talents in a lot of ways,” Keith Hull said. “He’ll make it really huge or he’ll be happy doing what he’s doing.”

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