The American Traditions Competition took place a couple of weeks ago in Savannah, Georgia. What an AMAZING competition hosted in such a historic gem of a town!
I had SUCH a good time there, There really simply is not another competition like this one anywhere that I have ever heard of! It is WAY better than anything else out there.
Here is the video from my first round performance, please give it a whirl! In every round you have to select three diverse genres, so in this one, I started with the "folk" genre, with The Water is Wide, then the "Operetta" genre with Kiss Me Again (Herbert), and lastly the "Spirituals" genre, with my arrangement of He Never Said a Mumblin' Word.
Singers get to sing ANYTHING! It is terribly exciting. Although I did not win, I did progress to the semi-finals, (the semi-finalists were just astounding!) and out of the semi-finalists that were chosen, I was honored with the audience favorite: "Richard Chambless People's Choice" award.
It was a privilege to have even been participating in a competition with folks who are on Broadway, or winners of internationally renowned competitions, people who are singing at the Met and other major opera houses all over the world, songwriters, and people who have released several of their own albums... and there is no age limit to the competition, which is also cool!
The competition kicks off with 28 quarter-finalists, from all over the United States and even Canada, who were selected from the pre-screening application process. The competition generously reimbursed our travel costs, and hosted us while there, I am SO grateful to my WONDERFUL host & sponsors, Michael & Gail Siegel. Who undoubtedly are definitely the best hosts EVER.
The competition has three intense rounds spanning over five days. Other highlights from the week feature the past winners and the judges of the competition performing in concerts and also giving a masterclass. The whole operation is really quite amazingly run by phenomenal teams of volunteers and sponsors, and the artistic consultant (and past gold medal winner) Vale Rideout and his assistant the beautiful 2014 winner Mikki Sodergren.
Opera SUPER STAR Deborah Voigt was on schedule to be one of the judges and to give the masterclass, but unfortunately she fell ill and was not able to be there--but cabaret legend Marilyn Maye was also a judge and I had the privilege of being selected to sing a masterclass with her, she was GREAT.
And it was SUCH a fun experience to meet and mingle with other artists who like to bend the rules and 'sing all the things' ! My hat is off to the winners & finalists: I just can't believe their phenomenal performances: especially First place winner, Michael Maliakel, and Second place Rebecca Orodisio, and Third place Aundi-Mari Moore - what a treat to get to connect with you, and what an educational week filled with glorious voices and terrific art.
And a serious shout out to the FREAK GENIUSES on the keys.... Annastasia Victory & David Shenton
I am SO happy to have had this experience and so grateful to those who are responsible for 'running the show'. Cheers! I look forward to the next competition already!
Photo credits: John Carrington Photography
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"Becoming a mother changed me. I have more love, passion, and fulfillment in life; which in turn, enriches my artistry. Please join me in normalizing motherhood within the performing artist's culture."
- Rachel Sparrow
Rachel Sparrow is a professional singer, musician,(violin, piano, ukulele) actor, teacher, arranger, writer, and most importantly: a wife and a mommy of two littles. She loves to help parents make everyday life musical with their kids as well as share backstage stories, and performance experiences here. She earned her Master's degree in Voice Performance from Northwestern University, and also holds two Bachelor's degrees in Voice, and Music Education (certified to teach k-12 vocal & instrumental music) from Idaho State University. She is also a certified Music Together Director (music class for birth-5 yrs). See about Rachel.
"Think Outside Your Box" means 3 things:
1. Be Selfless - think beyond your own "box". (and for singers, there's more to life than your voice box!) You're capable of helping and healing others.
2. Feel Empowered to bust out of the proverbial
"box" made of societally-induced-parameters.
3. Be Bold. Innovate. Stretch yourself. You can do anything if you set your mind to it.