The Santa Monica News

The Voice Behind the Voice Mail
Marsha Graham pursues new dreams and goals on the Westside.
The Santa Monica News; February, 1998; By Julie Kurrus

“Your call cannot be connected as dialed…”

“Please leave a message…”

She’s the voice you love to hate…or hate to love (depending on your day) and it’s alomst impossible to avoid her, yet she’s heard by 40 million people every day.

She’s Marsha Graham, the “Voice Mail Queen.” For the last six years, Graham, a show business veteran and professional singer, has been “the voice” for Octel Communications voice messaging systems, which includes Bell South, Nynex, U.S. West and others. But, you wouldn’t recognize her if you passed her on the street. “People are always shocked when they meet me,” says Graham. “They say, ‘I thought you were a computer, but you’re a real person.”

Graham moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco last year to pursue more on-camera hosting (she’d love to have her own television show), but in the meantime she runs her own company, “Vocal Access,” where she teaches voice classes, titled “Authentic Voice.”

“It’s voice coaching but it’s like a method acting process, so it’s bringing truth to what you have to say.” While she’s known for having a “compassionate” voice, Graham feels it’s more important to her to be “real.” “It’s all about being authentic within the confines of this digitized entity,” says Graham.

Voice mail was a system designed to make us more productive and better communicators, but according to Graham, it ironically had the opposite effect.

“It was supposed to make us feel more connected,” says Graham. “And the reality is, we’re move isolated than we’ve ever been before. I’m trying to bring that human connection back in.”

To show she means business, Graham has taken one of her favorite voice prompts, “are you still there,” and her passion for “truth,” and is turning it into a book titled: “Are You Still There? A Return to Authenticity.”

She’s already had her share of fame, appearing on all of Los Angeles’ morning shows, the front page of the Los Angeles Times’ “Life and Style” section, and several other national publications, including “Woman’s World,” the “Chicago Tribune,” the “Boston Globe,” and let’s not forget the “National Enquirer.”

Graham, who is represented by Abrams Rubiloff and Lawrence, has also heard from producers of the Tonight Show and the Maury Povich Show, both are still pending.

While currently living in Bel Air, Graham feels Los Angeles is just the creative atmosphere she needs to pursue her dreams. “I love it (Los Angeles)! I love the opportunities here, I love the possibilities and I love the fact that people in L.A. support you to be all you can be. There’s no glass ceiling here.”

If you are interested in hearing more about Graham’s classes, call (800) 921-5655 and don’t be surprised if you hear a familiar voice.