Sunday Profle: Matthew Moorehead

By Barbara Curtin
Statesman Journal (link includes video)

Matthew Moorehead stands in two worlds. There’s Matthew the opera singer, who has appeared not only at Western Oregon University, but at a summer festival in Rome. Then there’s Matthew the staff sergeant in the Oregon Army National Guard, veteran of two Iraq deployments, committed to the military until 2013.

It’s an unusual combination at WOU, but it makes sense for Matthew — and not just because the G.I. Bill is paying for much of his schooling.

“The military has given me the strength and direction to go after what I want in life,” he said recently, between a private voice lesson and a music class on the Monmouth campus.

Moorehead, 31, retains the cropped hair and the strong biceps of a soldier — he lifts weights nearly every day. He doesn’t talk much about his deployments. But he continues to wear a dog tag, and each hand sports a thick ring that he bought to commemorate the end of a mission in Iraq.

matthew moorehead
Moorehead practices during a voice lesson with Dr. Kevin Helppie, head professor of vocal studies at Western Oregon University.

“My goal was to take care of my men and make sure we did our job,” he said. “I’m just glad to be back now and to be in college.”

That responsibility and determination started early, said his mother, Diane Moorehead, a kindergarten teacher at St. John Lutheran Church.

She and her husband, Ken, had one older son when they adopted Matthew.

“It was a great blessing to our family,” she said. “(Matthew) took more interest in what his dad liked — outdoors, fishing. Tim was more bookish like me.”

For five years, young Matthew delivered a Statesman Journal route in their Candalaria neighborhood. He took $500 of the money he earned while in high school and bought his first car.

He played trumpet and baritone at Candalaria Elementary and Leslie Middle School. Then, at South Salem High, a friend suggested that he join the choir.

“That was the start of my love for singing,” Matthew said.

One of his role models was — and still is — Arnold Schwarzennegger. The immigrant-turned-action-hero-turned-California-governor inspired Matthew as a high school weight lifter. He still looks to Schwarzennegger as an example for keeping his 5-foot, 10-inch frame in top shape.


Resides in: South Salem
Family: Single; “I’d like to meet somebody.”
Military service: U.S. Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom (February 2003 to May 2004 and May 2009 to June 2010); Oregon Army National Guard (December 1997 to August 2004; October 2007 to present)
Musical experience: Opera productions at Portland State University, Rome Festival 2002 and Western Oregon University. Sang the National Anthem at 2009 mobilization ceremony in Memorial Coliseum.
Film favorites: Likes watching action flicks and anything by M. Night Shyamalan in his apartment, where he has installed a video projector with surround sound and a 120-inch screen.
In his free time you’ll find him: Playing at Minto-Brown Island dog park with his rescued Basenji-Dachshund mix dog Mr. Miyagi (“He’s adopted, like me.”)
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