Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Michael Feinstein's Great American Songbook Foundation Announces 2017 National Finalists

They rank among the top high school-age vocalists in the nation, hailing from Los Angeles, Portland, Houston, Miami, New York City, Detroit, St. Louis and right here in central Indiana. For one week this summer, they will experience a rigorous, exciting, expert-led introduction to the world of professional performing arts.

Founded by five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein and now in its eighth year, the Great American Songbook Foundation's annual Songbook Academy is the only high school intensive in the United States focused on the timeless pop, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood standards that have come to be known as the Great American Songbook. The 2017 Academy, sponsored nationally by the Central Indiana Community Foundation's Efroymson Family Fund, is scheduled July 15-22 at the Songbook Foundation's headquarters, the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

To apply, hundreds of young hopefuls submit audition videos for review by a panel of judges, who provide detailed personal feedback to every applicant. Only 40 students nationwide are selected each year to attend the Academy, a life-changing opportunity to experience workshops, master classes and mentoring from music industry professionals and respected university educators. Along with Feinstein, past mentors have included Broadway stars Laura Osnes and Jarrod Spector, Grammy-nominated jazz singer Jane Monheit and the Manhattan Transfer's Cheryl Bentyne and Janis Siegel.

Participants are able to network with peers and pros, perform before live audiences and join the Songbook Academy Alumni Network to stay connected and informed about college programs, auditions and performance opportunities. The week culminates in the July 22 Songbook Academy Finals, a performance and competition presented by the Center for the Performing Arts in its acoustically superior 1,600-seat Palladium concert hall. Tickets go on sale Thursday, June 1, at (317) 843-3800 or

Awards are presented for excellence in several categories, and top performers are invited to represent the Songbook Foundation and sing with Michael Feinstein at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the nation's top cabaret clubs. One alumna of the program is Maddie Baillio of League City, Texas, who claimed the 2014 Songbook Youth Ambassador title. Among other career steps since then, she appeared on national television last year as Tracy Turnblad in NBC's Hairspray Live! broadcast.

The 2017 finalists are:

Joie Bianco, Staten Island, NY

Talent Unlimited High School, NYC

Taylor Bickett, Carmel, IN

Carmel High School

Yarden Borshevsky-Barr, Friendswood, TX

Friendswood High School

Logan Branch, East Greenwich, RI

East Greenwich High School

Lucy Breedlove, Vienna, VA

James Madison High School

Haley Burgh, Greenwood, IN

Center Grove High School

Weston Clark, Zionsville, IN

Park Tudor High School, Indianapolis

Kayla Daubenspeck, Lebanon, IN

Lebanon High School

Morgan Demetre, Portland, OR

Cleveland High School

Elizabeth DeVoto, St. Louis, MO

Nerinx Hall High School

Hayden Elefante, Zionsville, IN

Zionsville Community High School

Matt Engelken, Dubuque, IA

Hempstead High School

Emily Estep, Fresno, CA

University High School

Mathew Fedorek, Finleyville, PA

Lincoln Parks Performing Arts Charter School, Midland, PA

Caleb Freeman, Webb City, MO

Webb City High School

Sofia Gonzalez, San Gabriel, CA

Alverno High School

Cynthia Kauffman, Zionsville, IN

Zionsville Community High School

Cinderella Ksebati, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI

Grosse Pointe South High School

Tara Lacy, Carmel, IN

Carmel High School

Sara Lewandowski, Sylvania, OH

Sylvania Northview High School

Ella Marcus, New York, NY

Fiorello LaGuardia High School

Alec Melosini, Trabuco Canyon, CA

Santa Margarita Catholic High School

Jonathan Mitzenmacher, Miami, FL

Coral Reef Senior High School

Anja Reese, Carmel, IN

Carmel High School

Finnian Sagal, La Cañada Flintridge, CA

La Cañada High School

JarEd Sayers, Lexington, KY

Lafayette Senior High School

Adriana Scalice, Penfield, NY

Penfield High School

Madeline Seitles, East Moriches, NY

Westhampton Beach High School

Isabella Shiff, Glendale, CA

Lycee International de Los Angeles

Joseph Silva, Reseda, CA

Notre Dame High School

Wilson Smith, Greenwood, IN

Center Grove High School

Sami Staitman, Woodland Hills, CA

Calabasas High School

Lexi Staubi, Darien, CT

Darien High School

Zoë Stewart, Mendon, MA


Lydia Talamante, Herndon, VA

Oakton High School

Audrey Trullinger, Ambler, PA

Mount Saint Joseph Academy

Emily Tschirhart, Ann Arbor, MI

Community High School

Grace Tucker, Zionsville, IN

Zionsville Community High School

George Walker, Decatur, IL

Eisenhower High School

Cole Winston, Hartland, WI

Arrowhead High School

The mission of the Great American Songbook Foundation, founded by five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein, is to inspire and educate by celebrating the timeless songs of pop, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood. The Foundation is committed to preserving and elevating this rich legacy by curating physical artifacts of its creators, performers and publishers; offering programs for the public and research opportunities for scholars, historians and performers; providing educational opportunities and multidisciplinary curricula for student musicians; overseeing the Songbook Hall of Fame; and operating a multimedia gallery for public exhibition of its collections. More information is available at

Pictured: Finalists perform in the 2016 Songbook Academy closing concert at the Palladium.

Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

More Hot Stories For You