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American Traditions Vocal Competition Announces 2019 Winners

American Traditions Vocal Competition Announces 2019 Winners

Last evening the American Traditions Vocal Competition (ATC) ended an incredible week celebrating and preserving all styles of classic American music with the 2019 Finals at the Trustees Theater on E. Broughton Street in historic downtown Savannah, GA.

The winners were announced following an intermission during which the judges (award-winning jazz musician Melba Joyce, American composer, conductor and music administrator Michael Ching, and Tony award-nominee and Broadway performer Phillip Boykin) retired to make their final selections from among the talented pool of artists who progressed through the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds earlier this week. These contestants were required to perform diverse songs written by American composers in each round, representing a total of nine genres throughout the competition.

The Gold Medal, worth $12,000 and a professional solo engagement with the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra, was awarded to Mykal Kilgore.

Other awards presented included:

  • The Silver Medal - sponsored by Patty and Heyward Gignilliat - and $6,000 was awarded to Emily Yocum Black.

  • The Bronze Medal - sponsored by Enmarket Stations, Inc. - and $3,000 was awarded to Savannah resident George Lovett.

  • The Fourth Place Prize - sponsored by Ron and Susan Whitaker - and $2,000 was awarded to Christian Douglas.

  • The Fifth Place Prize - sponsored by Savannah Friends of Music - and $1,500 was awarded to Ashleigh Smith.

  • The "Think Outside the Book" Award in collaboration with Musical Theater Songs, worth $500 - sponsored by Steven Gross - was presented to Kathryn McCreary for her performance of a song from the "Not Heard a Lot" or "Rare Find" category of

  • The Johnny Mercer Award and $750 for best Johnny Mercer performance during the quarterfinal or semifinal rounds - sponsored by The Friends of Johnny Mercer Inc. and Georgia Southern University at Armstrong Campus - was awarded to Cyrille Aimée.

  • The Toian Bowser-Alexander Award, worth $500, is given in honor of Ms. Toian Alexander, the first ATC treasurer, by James Edward Alexander. This award is voted on by contestants and rewards a contestant who exhibits helpfulness to others, encouragement, and supportiveness. The Toian Bowser-Alexander Award was presented to Jorell Williams.

  • The Sherrill Milnes American Opera Award and $500 - sponsored by Barry and Naomi Cohen - was presented to Liz Lang for best American aria.

  • The Ben Tucker Jazz Award, along with $500, is sponsored by the Dr. David A. and Dr. Margaret M. Cohen Charitable Foundation. This award was presented by Mrs. Gloria Tucker in honor of her late husband's legacy to Gabrielle Stravelli for the best jazz performance.

  • Two Richard Chambless People's Choice Awards and $500 were presented to Gillian Hassert from the quarterfinals and Hannah Zazzaro from the semifinal round. These awards, given by Swann Seiler in memory of her dear friend Richard Chambless, are presented on behalf of the audience.

"The level of talent demonstrated by our contestants this week blew us away, leaving the judges to make many difficult decisions over the course of the competition," said ATC Artistic Director Mikki Sodergren. "Congratulations to our Gold Medal winner, Mykal Kilgore, and all 28 contestants who participated in our 2019 season!"

To learn more about the ATC - a nonprofit arts organization seeking to celebrate and preserve all styles of classic American music through a unique vocal competition for highly skilled and diverse singing performers - please visit

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