The fun started 13 years ago, when Susan Picillo left a kooky mes­sage for a Houghton Mif­flin exec­u­tive from a Boston pay phone.

I kept changing voices,” says Picillo, a lec­turer in com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “I did a little kid, and a gang­ster, and a cliché dumb blonde.”

Her bravura per­for­mance paid off. It con­vinced the pub­lisher to hire her as a voice-​​over actress for the Curious George inter­ac­tive CD-​​Rom series, in which she played a park ranger, a fruit vendor and a char­acter Picillo describes as a “plump, happy, pearl-​​wearing” aviatrix.

It also launched her career in the voice-​​over industry.

Picillo, who can do a rip-​​roaring impres­sion of Ethel Merman chan­neling Bruce Spring­steen, sums up the secret to her out­spoken suc­cess: “It’s all about trying dif­ferent things and playing with sounds.”

Her keen under­standing of the power of drama and song helps her there. In the late 1970s, Picillo studied acting at Emerson Col­lege, then moved to New York “to seek fame and for­tune on the stage,” she says, playing Anya in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” and Sarah in Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company.”

She’s still a working musi­cian. Her band, Susan E. and Blues­liner, plays a “pow­er­house blend of blues, soul, R&B and funk,” according to its Face­book page.

My favorite venue is standing in front of a live audi­ence and singing,” says Picillo, whose heart­felt ren­di­tion of T-​​Bone Walker’s song “Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)” has been known to leave a few tears in its wake.

Picillo prides her­self on keeping her voice in great shape. Before gigs on stage or in the studio, she drinks plenty of water, abstains from coffee and takes a hot shower to loosen up her vocal chords.

In her public speaking and artic­u­la­tion classes, Picillo pre­scribes vocal exer­cises to stu­dents like an ath­letic trainer pre­scribes shoulder exer­cises to base­ball players.

If you make your living by using your voice, it’s in your best interest to pro­tect it like a pitcher pro­tects his arm,” she says.