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Michael Feinstein, Sylvia McNair, et al. to Judge Songbook Vocal Competition, 6/12


High school vocalists from 11 states will arrive in Indianapolis on June 12 for the Great American Songbook Vocal Academy and Competition. The four-day academy and competition is sponsored by the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative. The annual endeavor is the only U.S. competition dedicated solely to the music from Broadway, Hollywood musicals and the Tin Pan Alley era of the early to mid-twentieth century.

“Through this competition, we are reaching a new generation to teach this music and the American history that inspired and influenced these composers,” said Michael Feinstein, the Initiative’s founder and noted American Songbook ambassador.

The 2012 Great American Songbook High School Academy and Competition finalists are:

· Nick Ziobro, Manlius, NY

· Sage Melcher, Honeoye Falls, NY

· Nick Angel, Haslett, MI

· Jared Wells, Terre Haute, IN

· Tony Ponella, Bloomington, IN

· Jillian Slade, Dubuque, IA

· Eleri Ward, Burr Ridge, IL

· Kelly Muller, San Bernardino, CA

· Genevieve Ellis, Corona, CA

· Tori Anna, Napa, CA

From June 12-15, the finalists will participate in a comprehensive “boot camp” on interpreting and performing American standards. The sessions will be held at the University of Indianapolis. Master classes will be open to the general public (see schedule below). The classes are intended to prepare finalists for the final competition performance at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts. Led by local and national celebrity performers and professionals, workshops will cover topics ranging from breathing and microphone techniques to one-on-one coaching and master-classes.

The final performance is at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 15 and is open to the public. Tickets for the final performance are $10/student, $25/general admission, $50/preferred seating (includes a $25 donation). Call the box office at 317-843-3800 or

The first place winner wins $3000 and the chance of a lifetime: a trip to sing in New York City with five-time Grammy Award nominee, world-renowned performer and recording artist, and co-founder of the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, Michael Feinstein. Second place will receive $2000 and third place will receive $1500 towards continuing music education.

Regional finalists for the 2012 competition were selected from the following eligible states: Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Wisconsin and Iowa.

For additional information, visit The mission of the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative is to bring the music of the Great American Songbook to our young people today and to preserve it for the generations to come.

Free and open to the public. Location: University of Indianapolis, Ruth Lilly Performance Hall
Wednesday, June 13 (1:30 to 4:30 p.m.) – Sylvia McNair and Michael Feinstein
Thursday, June 14 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) – Sandi Patty and Michael Feinstein

The 2012 Vocal Academy and Competition implemented the first step in a three year expansion plan to become a national education initiative. 2012 saw the addition of four states to the competition including Arizona, California, Nevada, and New York. Students from eleven states auditioned to participate in regional academies. Winners from each region were selected to attend the final academy and competition in Carmel, Indiana, June 12-16, 2012. The structure of the final academy and competition includes a partnership with the University of Indianapolis. Students will be housed in campus dorms and the workshops and master classes will be conducted in campus facilities. The final performance will be held at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

Jim Caruso: His Broadway debut - alongside Liza Minnelli in “Liza’s At The Palace!” - was honored with a 2009 Tony Award for Best Special Event and the recording was nominated for a Grammy. For his nightclub work, Caruso has won six MAC Awards and two BackStage Magazine Bistro Awards for sold-out shows at Birdland, Arci’s Place, The Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel and The Russian Tea Room. He has also performed in runs at the Cinegrill and Gardenia in Los Angeles, The Vic Theater and Davenport’s in Chicago, Libby’s in Atlanta, the Colony Palm Beach Hotel in Florida and the Connaught Room in London.

Michael Feinstein: The multi-platinum selling, five-time Grammy-nominated entertainer is the founder of the vocal academy and competition. He serves as the artistic director at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana. Known as “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” he is considered one of the premier interpreters of American Popular Song. More than a mere performer, he is nationally recognized for his commitment to the American Popular Song, both celebrating its art and preserving its legacy for the next generation. In addition to serving as artistic director, Feinstein performs frequently at the Center for the Performing Arts.

La Tanya Hall: Vocalist La Tanya Hall is poised to take her place as one of the foremost jazz vocalists in the world today. Her ability to reinvent the Great American Songbook is amassing glorious reviews from around the globe. It's About Time [Bridge Records-2009], Hall's debut recording, has been heralded as “an impressive debut from one of jazz's brightest stars,” [ 2009]. describes her as “a woman ripe with talent [whose] interpretative skills are a marvel.” Her versatility in a variety of musical genres has allowed her to collaborate with some of music’s most celebrated artists, including Diana Ross, Bobby McFerrin, Harry Belafonte, Burt Bacharach, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Rob Thomas, and Patti LaBelle.

Sylvia McNair: Two-time Grammy winner and regional Emmy winner, Sylvia McNair lays claim to a three-decade, stellar career in the musical realms of opera, oratorio, cabaret and musical theater. Her journey has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival, from the New York Philharmonic to the Rainbow Room. Having appeared as a soloist multiple times with nearly every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the world, this songbird has flown the classical coop. She’s retracing her star route now with Gershwin, Porter, Sondheim and Bernstein.

Sandi Patty: She is simply known as “The Voice.” With five Grammy awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three platinum records, five gold records and eleven million units sold, Sandi is the most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history (including 40 Dove Awards). She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and as an Indiana Living Legend in 2007. She has released over 30 albums, including her latest Dove Award winning album, The Edge of the Divine (2010). Her debut full length symphonic pops album Broadway Stories, conducted by Maestro Jack Everly, was released on October 18, 2011.

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