Songbook Academy selects 40 finalists from across USA
The Great American Songbook Foundation, founded by Grammy-nominated vocalist,Michael Feinstein, has selected 40 students from across the country to participate in the 2015 Songbook Academy. High school vocalists representing 16 states will compete for top awards on Saturday, July 25 at the Songbook Academy Finals at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Tickets for this popular event are on sale now at www.TheCenterPresents.org.
Now in its sixth year, the Songbook Academy provides high school singers in grades 9-12 with the life-changing opportunity to work with music industry professionals and educators from top college arts programs to experience firsthand the uniquely American and culturally significant music known as the Great American Songbook. This year, five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein is joined by Tony nominee Laura Osnes and Grammy-winner Sylvia McNair as Mentors for the Academy.
“The Songbook Academy is one of the highlights of my year. The young people that participate are so full of talent and passion. I love having the opportunity to work with each of them and to see their growth over the course of the week. Not only do they learn a lot, but they build relationships with other talented singers and mentors from coast to coast. They make memories bursting with music and, in the process, develop character, confidence, and an appreciation for our musical history,” said Michael Feinstein, founder of the Songbook Foundation and Songbook Academy.
Students from across the country submitted online applications and were selected by a panel of music educators and industry professionals. Indiana and California lead the way by sending 8 students each to the week-long academy; New York will send 4; Iowa and Illinois are sending 3 each; Missouri, Massachusetts and Louisiana are sending 2 each; and the remaining students will come from Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.
All Songbook Academy participants will be eligible for the following awards:
>>> Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador Award will receive the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to perform with two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award nominated entertainer and founder of the Songbook Foundation, Michael Feinstein. The Youth Ambassador will serve for one year and will have opportunities to perform throughout the year. Past Youth Ambassador performance opportunities have included:
Multiple appearances with Michael Feinstein – including Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall
Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Gala – with Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, Johnny Mathis, Jimmy Webb, for example
National Anthem at NFL game
Appearance with Pasadena Pops
>>> Songbook Inspiration Award and Songbook Celebration Award winners will each receive a performance opportunity with two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award nominated entertainer and founder of the Songbook Foundation, Michael Feinstein.
The Songbook Academy will take place at the Great American Songbook Foundation’s headquarters, where students will participate in a seven-day academy on interpreting and performing the music of the Great American Songbook. Five-time Grammy nominee, Michael Feinstein, and other top music industry professionals and educators will conduct workshops and master classes throughout the week, some of which will be open to the public. The final competition performance will be held in the 1,600-seat Palladium Concert Hall at the Center for the Performing Arts.
The 2015 finalists are listed below:
Caitlin Aloia, Doylestown, PA, Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School
Kristin Barnes, Carmel, IN, Carmel High School
Tracey Beresford, Dubuque, IA, Hempstead High School
Lucas DeBard, Lebanon, IN, Lebanon High School
Elizabeth DeVoto, St. Louis, MO, Nerinx Hall High School
Avery Eliason, Lawrenceburg, IN, Lawrenceburg High School
Joseph Farr, Oklahoma City, OK, Mustang High School
Erika Gill, Darien, CT, Darien High School
Trenton Gunsolley, Colorado Springs, CO, The Classical Academy
Cate Hayman, Mill Valley, CA, Tamalpais High School
Matt Hoffman, Stony Brook, NY, Ward Melville High School
Kendra Housel, Winona Lake, IN, Warsaw Community High School
Leah Huber, Haughton, LA, Airline High School
Olivia Hytha, Berkeley, CA, Berkeley High School
DeMar Jackson, Decatur, IL, Eisenhower High School
Katriona Kennedy, Crestline, CA, Stathmore Academy
Adam Kruschwitz, Rochester, NY, Brighton High School
Drew Mabusth, Dubuque, IA, Stephen Hempstead High School
Sophia Manternach, Dubuque, IA, Stephen Hempstead High School
Rebecca Martin, Syracuse, NY, Marcellus High School
Michaela Marymor, Novato, CA, Novato High School
Jonathan Mitzenmacher, Miami, FL, Coral Reef Senior High School
Taylor Moran, Aurora, IL, Metea Valley High School
Kathleen Muloma, Carmel, IN, Carmel High School
Grace Muawad, Grosse Pointe, MI, Grosse Pointe South High School
Deirdre Pedersen, Westborough, MA, Westborough High School
Logan Rains, San Ramon, CA, California High School
Joshua Reinier, San Francisco, CA, The Nueva Upper School
Elizabeth Ross, Shreveport, LA, Caddo Parish Magnet High School
Geon Ruffin, Lisle, IL, Homeschooled
Sharada Shashidhar, Painted Post, NY, Corning Painted Post High School
Gwendolyn Sierra, Long Beach, CA, Millikan High School
Sydney Sorrell, Carmel, IN, Carmel High School
Madelyn Steurer, Jeffersonville, IN, Assumption High School
Matthew Straw, Columbia, MO, Hickman High School
Katie Swaney, Greenwood, IN, Center Grove High School
April Varner, Toledo, OH, Notre Dame Academy
Noah Virgile, Lexington, MA, Lexington High School
Hannah Vogelsang, Haslett, MI, Haslett High School
Cole Winston, Hartland, WI, Arrowhead High School
World-class performers have served as coaches and mentors for the Songbook Academy. These talented individuals have shared a wealth of encouragement, inspiration, and performance techniques with students, for an amazing once in a lifetime experience. Mentors for the 2015 Songbook Academy include:
>>> Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling, five-time Grammy-nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace.
>>> Laura Osnes was most recently seen on Broadway as the title role in Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Drama Desk Award; Tony, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League Award nominations). Osnes also starred in Bonnie and Clyde (Tony Award nomination), creating the role at Asolo Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse (San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award). She appeared as Hope Harcourt in the Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Astaire Award nominations), Nellie Forbush in Lincoln Center’s production of South Pacific, and her Broadway debut as Sandy in the most recent revival of Grease.
>>> Sylvia McNair is a two-time Grammy Award winner and regional Emmy Award winner. Her journey has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival, from the New York Philharmonic to the Rainbow Room, from the Ravinia Festival to The Plaza, from the pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to the London Times and the cover of Cabaret Scenes. She has appeared as a soloist multiple times with nearly every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the world.
>>> Jerry DePuit has appeared nationwide with cabaret artists, and on both the Today and Tomorrow shows telecasts. His work as an arranger has been heard on recordings, in numerous pops concerts, at the Metropolitan Opera House, and Radio City Music Hall. He has orchestrated three original musicals, including A WONDERFUL LIFE by Joe Raposo and Sheldon Harnick, arranged and orchestrated several full-scale revues and many smaller ones, helped reconstruct the original score of LOVE LIFE (a 1948 musical by Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner), and has written many new arrangements of extant works, both choral and instrumental. He is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan where he taught for thirty years in the musical theatre department.
>>> Catherine A. Walker, assistant professor of music at University of Michigan, has worked extensively as a musical director, most recently on productions of Next To Normal, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Parade, Blood Brothers, Urinetown, The Light in the Piazza, An Evening With Lauren Kennedy, An Evening with Scott Coulter and Shenandoah, starring Robert Newman, formerly of T.V.'s Guiding Light.
>>> Naz Edwards is a singer/actor in the best and highest sense of both terms. Credits include THE BAKER'S WIFE (Denise, with Scott Bakula) and CARNIVAL (Rosalie, with Judith Blazer), and on Broadway as the Leader in ZORBA, with Anthony Quinn and the great Lila Kedrova.
The Great American Songbook Foundation
Michael Feinstein founded the Great American Songbook Foundation in 2007 in order to preserve, promote, and perpetuate the music of the Great American Songbook. The mission of the Foundation is to inspire and educate by celebrating the Great American Songbook. The work of the Foundation includes: High School Songbook Academy, Educational programming, Library, Archives, and Gallery Exhibits, Great American Songbook Hall of Fame
To learn more, visit: www.TheSongbook.org
About Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace.
More than simply a performer, Feinstein has received national recognition for his commitment to celebrate America’s popular song and preserve its legacy for the next generation. In 2007, he founded the Great American Songbook Foundation, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual Songbook Academy for high school students.
Michael serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board; an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage. Feinstein serves as Artistic Director of the Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theater venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The Center is home to the Great American Songbook Foundation Archives and museum. Starting in 2010, he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 2013, he replaced the late Marvin Hamlisch as the lead conductor of the Pasadena Pops.
Feinstein can be seen on PBS in his award winning series, Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook. He can also be heard on NPR in his current show, Song Travels with Michael Feinstein. His latest book, The Gershwins and Me, which is combined with a new CD of Gershwin standards performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano, was released by Simon & Schuster in October 2012. His latest album, A Michael Feinstein Christmas, was released in 2014.
Watch highlight reel of Songbook Academy:
Watch video of 2014 Winner, Madelyn Baillio, Perform at the Competition:
Watch video of 2013 Winner, Julia Goodwin, Perform at the Competition:
Watch video of 2012 Winner, Nick Ziobro, Perform at the Competition:
Read feature of 2014 Final Competition performance:
Read ‘Saving the Songbook’ – Wall Street Journal:
The mission of the Great American Songbook Foundation is to inspire and educate by celebrating the Great American Songbook.