By Mikhail Talley
You could say Justin Little is not one to plan things out. He did not plan on winning Singer of the Year. In fact, he did not plan on being in the music program at all.
Hailing from Colorado Springs, Colo. Little came to Colorado State University as an undeclared major with an interest in computer science, hoping to write books and design video games based on them. With a few high school musicals and choir experience under his belt, singing was a passion but not necessarily Little’s main focus. However, before long his desire for singing became difficult to ignore, and when the choice between taking a choir class and a computer science course presented itself, Little had to decide to give his passion a second look.
“I remember talking to my roommate at the time, asking him what I should do,” Little recalls. “And I remember him asking me if I loved singing so much, why was it even a question?”
And just like that Little decided to change his focus to music and within a year was accepted into the competitive Vocal Performance program as a baritone vocalist,where he has since performed as an opera student and apart of the CSU Chamber Choir.
“When he was a freshman, I assigned him a very dramatic piece written by Schumann, entitled, der Soldat,” noted his voice professor Dr. John Seesholtz. “Justin and I worked together on the German text and I explained to Justin how intensely emotional this character would have to be. This is when I first saw Justin truly thrive as an artist. In his first performance of the piece for the class, Justin moved many to tears with his character and singing.”
Entering into the Singer of the Year competition this year, he went into it the same as he had before; with plenty of practice, with the help of his professor, and prayer.
“I hoped to win,” Little laughs. “But I went into it with no expectations; I try to go into everything very humble.”
So what was Little’s first thought upon winning?
“Oh cool I won!” Little laughs. “To me, winning the competition just means more confidence, and building a reputation for applying for things post-grad. I don’t think of myself as some great artist, I just want to make music.”
Watch the video (minute mark 7:23)
True to form, Little is not planning any specific goals for the future but instead simply planning on seeing where his talent takes him. He is hoping for a role in the next two operas before his graduation in May 2016 and is also auditioning for two New York City Metropolitan Opera competitions as well as a program with Emerald City Opera this upcoming summer. He also hopes to continue pursuing missionary work, another passion of his, in Norway.
In Little’s words, “I will move wherever I am called to go.”
About CSU’s Singer of the Year Competition
This popular annual competition features CSU’s finest undergraduate vocal students competing for awards and scholarships. The awards include the $5,000 top Singer of the Year Award, Charles and Reta Ralph Undergraduate Scholarship, Most Improved Award, and the James McDonald Memorial Scholarship. The awards are based on the students’ vocal performance and on progress toward their degree. The jury of judges consists of CSU voice area faculty Tiffany Blake, John Seesholtz, Susan Hochmiller, Steven Aguiló-Arbues, and guest adjudicators.
Other awards from this year’s competition included:
Charles and Reta Ralph Undergraduate Scholarship: Ingrid Johnson, mezzo-soprano, sophomore, B.A. Vocal Performance
Most Improved Award: Annie Schoephoerster, soprano, freshman, B.M. Music Therapy
James McDonald Memorial Scholarship: Schyler Vargas, baritone, junior, B.A. Vocal Performance