Remembering Vanessa Hart

vanessa_hartThe industry lost a wonderful talent and beautiful soul on February 11th. That’s when 54-year-old Vanessa Hart passed away unexpectedly after a short illness.

The woman with, bar none, the very best female voice I’ve ever heard, narrated more than 100 audiobooks. In fact, her work was honored with various nominations and awards, including the AudioFile Earphone award. AudioFile Magazine called her “a master narrator.”

Vanessa also voiced commercials, corporate narrations and national television promos. Her clients included Target, Dillard’s, Cadillac and Bravo, Lifetime and A&E entertainment channels.

But more than a great talent, I called her friend.

She inspired me and others with not only her talent, but her giving heart. That’s why she was hand selected to be one of the instructors in the “Three VoiceKeteers” workshops.  I also invited her to write a newbie column for the VoiceOver Insider, which she loved doing. Through it she guided many a talent as they began their VO careers.

Vanessa was also a “coach extraordinaire.” It often seemed that she delighted more in her students’ successes than in her own!

As Vanessa’s very close friend, Bobbin Beam put it, “Vanessa Hart was my dear friend, with a generous heart, who cared deeply for her students of audiobook narration.”

Vanessa loved to share her knowledge.  Recently, she taught an audiobook webinar with me for  To honor her desire to help everyone she could with their careers, we would like to help her do that posthumously.  So we’re offering a free download of that webinar. Download Audiobook Techniques and Getting Work, with Vanessa Hart and Julie Williams.

“Vanessa was a talented, tough, and a trusted friend, who was always there when you needed her,”  Bobbin continued. “She is a lovely, smart voice, now on pause … way too early in the game. But her legacy lives on. I will miss her deeply.”

Dear friend Don Leslie reveals a little known side of Vanessa Hart. “’Vanessa certainly had two distinct sides.  On one side, an emotional, caring, ‘softee,’ she was often hesitant to reveal; and on the other, a fierce strength that joined with her moral sense of right and wrong. What a wonderful combination! We laughed a lot. She let me in. We were close.”

“We were sad to learn of her passing and will gladly remember her fine work with reviews like this one,” said Michele Cobb of Audiofile Magazine. (Review posted below.)  Michele also notified the APA of Vanessa’s untimely death and there will likely be a tribute to her at the Audiobook Publishers Association Conference (APAC) in New York in late May.

Here’s what more of Vanessa Hart’s peers and colleagues are saying:

Vanessa’s throaty laugh proceeded her into any room. Diminutive in stature, she was large in personality and she brought that energy to the audiobook community right from the get go – meeting people, connecting people, delighting in others’ successes. She was a student in one of our classes when we met and she went on to take the audiobook world by storm. A true success story.  She shall be missed. — Hillary Huber

Vanessa Hart was the embodiment of talent and passion combined with kindness and generosity. She inspired everyone she worked with.  — Marc Cashman

Another great voice is silenced for now; but not to the great recordings of time!” Vanessa knew how to light up the room with her delightfully charming personality and amazing voice talent.” — Kurt Kelly

Vanessa’s sister  will be posting information on Vanessa’s Facebook page about a Memorial service that may be held in about two weeks. That page is:

Please feel free to leave your comments about Vanessa Hart, a shining light snuffed out too soon.

Audiofile Magazine Review:
Read by Vanessa Hart, Unabridged
Random House Audio/ Books on Tape

Narrator Vanessa Hart is the perfect pick to deliver this  thought-provoking political novel. Karen Hollander, a famous attorney who once turned down consideration for the Supreme Court, decides to write her memoir. But rich and powerful friends from her youth, which took place in the turbulent 1960s, are worried because Karen has kept a secret for more than 40 years, and it’s a big one. Hart, whose voice has been described as “liquid honey,” simply becomes the sexy, smart lawyer. Her portrayal of the supporting characters is equally well done, perfectly capturing the nuances, rhythms, and speech patterns that make each character distinct. This insightful story is presented to perfection by a master narrator.  A.C.P. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.

About Julie Williams

Julie Williams has voiced thousands of commercials and narrations, and eLearning scripts, as well as many other voice-overs. She is an active audiobook narrator, and was a 2012 Audie Finalist. Julie has also taught at such notable events as VO2013, The VoiceLympics Cruise, and multiple VOICE Conferences. She is a nationally recognized voiceover coach, and has coached hundreds of talent worldwide to reach their full potential. Julie is available for private coaching via Skype for a limited number of students.


  1. Julie,
    What a beautiful way to honor Vanessa’s memory.
    Thank you and bless you!

  2. Agreed. This is a tribute that will help others as well as share a bit of Vanessa to those who didn’t know her as well as they might have liked. Great idea. What a huge talent, and huge heart.

  3. Although i did not personally know Vanessa, her photo conveys her compassion, caring, sense of humor and kindness and concern for other people. What a fitting tribute you’ve arranged for Vanessa in offering her webinar for free to VoiceOverInsider subscribers. Thank you Vanessa and Julie for making this possibility available to you’re subscribers. Sincerely, Ed Ladner

    • I usually read previous comments to make sure I don’t repeat what’s already been said. Ed Ladner said exactly what I was thinking, especially about Vanessa’s photo. Her personality, as so many have described it, comes shining through in that photo. I’m sorry I never had the pleasure of meeting her.

  4. Thank you, Julie, for this wonderful, heartfelt tribute to your dear friend. Although I didn’t know Vanessa, I feel I do now after the wonderful comments you and others so eloquently expressed. My prayers are with her family and friends.

  5. Thank you, Julie! I never had the chance to meet Vanessa, and I will always regret that. But I will appreciate the gift both you and she gave to me and to other audiobook narrators! Voices live …

  6. Julie, thank you for sharing a little bit of Vanessa with those of us who didn’t know her. It was a wonderful tribute to her life. My heart goes out to you all.

  7. I was just remembering Vanessa today. It’s been over 5 years. I had worked with and for Vanessa helping to bring her visions to life on her websites. Alas, these no longer exist. She was constantly motivated to grow her work, and help others in the VO community do the same.

    This morning she came to mind as I was helping a friend and client navigate a challenging (potential) transition in their own voice over career. VO has not gotten any easier as a business over the last 11 years. I was first introduced to the industry in 2008 at the Voices 2008 conference in LA. For those of you there, I was up on stage as a somewhat reluctant volunteer for the magic act one night. lol

    I met Vanessa a couple years later.

    RIP <3 Vanessa

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