More About Paul

Wrong Spelling

This is spelled wrong, of course, but it’s still fun!

Thanks for visiting my website. My manager and I look forward to working with you or meeting you after performances. On this page, I thought I’d tell you a little more about myself, and share a few things that don’t usually make it into my biography. Consider this the “tell me more about yourself” portion of an interview, or where our conversation might lead at the reception after the curtain comes down.

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Summer 2022 – I enjoyed a busy spring semester with my students, and sang Angelotti in Tosca with Mobile Opera, Druid City Opera, and Opera Las Vegas. The rest of the summer is some needed down time, along with lots of administrative catch-up and planning.  Looking forward to the fall season, including work with Opera Mississippi and the Brahms Liebeslieder with my colleagues.

This is my partner and pianist, Kevin Chance! We were at Camille Sonnier’s wedding, June 2017.

Next, my last name.  Yup, it’s a tough one — not your every-day surname unless, of course, you’re from upstate New York and even then, it’s pretty rare.  But a recent student at Alabama had the last name Houghtling – no A.  (Ironic that that’s the letter he was missing as a student here at A-labama.)  He has upstate NY roots so we are likely something like 18th cousins.

My name — HOUGHTALING — pronounced HO-tail-ing, like “wholesaling” — is a Dutch name meaning money master, or accountant.   It’s an old spelling, obviously, with lots of other variations, such as Hooghteling and the later Ellis-Island type shortening Hotaling, but my father’s family has spelled our name this way since the late 18th century.  (The Microsoft Word spell check function offers “Hightailing” as a correction for Houghtaling, but that’s not an acceptable variation, although I can move fast if I need to.)  I’m picky about the spelling and pronunciation of my last name (“Paul” has never been mispronounced, that I know of, anyway).  It was my Dad’s name.

I have some interesting genealogical material tracing my father’s lineage to Mathys Coenradsten Houghtaling who came from Holland to New Netherlands in the early 17th century and settled in Coxsackie, New York.  A few generations later, my ancestors wound up not far away in Albany, New York where my father was born.


These are my cats, Paulie and Tanda. I didn’t name Paulie, we adopted him, and Tanda is named after a waitress at The Red Lobster. True!

I was born and raised in Troy, New York, essentially across the Hudson River from Albany.  That’s where my grandmother on my mother’s side, Ellen Stewart, arrived as a young girl from County Antrim, Ireland, around 1905 and where my Dad, George, met my mother, Jean Henry (daughter of John Henry), square dancing.   I don’t square dance, but I did go to the 8th grade dance at P.S. #14 in Troy.

Lots of people who’ve seen me perform in operetta ask about my twirling.  Umbrellas, canes, axes, whatever.  It’s from Drum Corps.  My earliest memories of performing (other than singing “I am the Wee Falorie Man” in first grade with an Irish brogue!) were with the Avant Garde Drum & Bugle Corps from Saratoga Springs, New York.  I played all sorts of small-bore brass bugles (piston/rotary and then two-valve) and taught myself how to twirl a rifle.  My parents thought it would be a useless skill, especially when I dented their ceilings tossing the thing up in the air, but now people pay me to do it.  I get my parents comp tickets, though, to make up for the ceiling dents.

I’m a Yankees fan.  My father was a Mets fan.  We watched interleague games together by phone.  I wish I had been into baseball as a kid. But I’m now also a devout Crimson Tide fan. If you’re going to work at a Division I sports school, it might as well be a national champion lots of times, right?

I have a cool family.  None of them sing, but they all cook, which I don’t.  My mother taught me how to clean a kitchen, which remains the only skill I bring to a dinner party.  (2022 – UPDATE – I’m actually cooking a lot more than I used to, enjoying it, and getting OK at it!!  Yup … it’s true.  I actually CAN cook!)

Below are a few pictures of me and my family.  Thanks again.

— Paul


Me in Kindergarten
(Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see my friend Jim’s attempt to improve this photo through his newly-acquired Photoshop abilities.)

SchoolPicP.S. # 14, Troy, NY, Grade 1. I’m on the top right.
If you’re in this picture and you see this, e-mail me, especially if you’re the guy with the bandage. I forgot what that was about.

Paulsisters1965My sisters Kathy, Lori and I circa 1965. I loved that suit. It definitely doesn’t fit any more.  🙂

Mom-Paul-babyMy Mom and me with my niece, Alison in 1986.
This is my favorite picture of my mother and me

Grandma1932My Grandmother Ellen Stewart Henry with my mother
and her dog Rover (I didn’t make that up) in 1932, Troy, NY

George-NatlGdMy father, George Houghtaling,
in the U.S. National Guard, 1952

KAYAKKayaking in Austin, TX, Summer 2005

PablitoStill looks like me!

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