By McKenna Shuler, SMTD Publicity Intern
The finalists in the 2017 Singer of the Year competition, held on Feb. 25 in the Organ Recital Hall, really delivered on the promise of being some of the university’s best vocalists. Andrew Wallace (junior), Anyaleen Bradley (senior), Emma Genell (junior), Emily Gehman (sophomore), and Arika Drake (junior) each gave stunning performances in the final round of competition. At the end of the night, though, it was Anyaleen who was granted the title ‘Singer of the Year’.
“I feel completely humbled, honored, and excited to have won this year,” she said. “The title of ‘Singer of the Year’ to me is validation that I am on the right path.”
The competitors all poured their hearts and souls into preparing for the competition, an event which had special meanings for everyone. For Anyaleen, it was confirmation of pursuing the right thing. For Andrew, it was reassurance. “As a music major, you are always doubting your abilities and questioning if you are really good enough,” he said. “This competition is a big encouragement to me and helps to reassure me that I am doing well with my instrument.”
Not only did the competition offer the competitors some level of encouragement, but it also provided an opportunity to learn. Emily, the youngest of the competitors, had this to say about her experience: “I learned that my actual ranking doesn’t matter at all as long as I’m committed to my art and I’m happy with the art I’ve put out there.” She also noted that the comments from the judges would be super helpful in moving forward.
Andrew shared similar sentiments, saying, “I was able to learn things from the judges that I need to improve on. They also were able to tell me what I am good at. I learned that God is in control, and that I do not need to worry because He loves me.”
All five of the students were well deserving of the awards they received. Dr. Tiffany Blake, of voice, expressed her feelings about the competition’s results. “I am very pleased,” she said. “I think the students did a great job both of singing and expressing their characters' emotions.” She also had her own advice to offer to them as they continue to pursue music: “I would encourage them to continue to work hard to achieve their own definition of success in music. Success can come in many different forms and means different things to different people.”
Following the competition, Anyaleen, Andrew, and Emily each had messages they wished to share with their fellow competitors. Anyaleen expressed gratitude to the voice studio, saying, “I really love all of my fellow competitors, my friends in the music department. Each and every one of them has helped shape me into the musician, the person, and the artist that I am today.”
Andrew’s message was directed at specific friends: “Arika, I am very proud of the progress that you have made. You deserved it. Anya [Anyaleen], I hope that your award encourages you of your skill and helps inform your direction in life.”
In her message, Emily shared how it felt to be on stage. “I'm so proud of everyone involved with [Singer of the Year] this year and it was an incredible honor to stand alongside you all.”
The annual competition provided all involved a great opportunity to share a part of themselves with everyone, and in doing so, learned about themselves and their passions for music. Hopefully they all continue to share their talents with the world far into the future.
Singer of the Year Competition Awards
Opera awards: Andrew Wallace, Emily Gehman, Emma Genell
Irene Binkley Scholarship: Arika Drake
Singer of the Year: Anyaleen Bradley