Whiz Kids: Samantha Calderon (11th grade), Darrel Kidd (12th grade) and Afua Yeboah (10th grade),
Accomplishment: Being chosen to attend the regional round in the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Vocal Competition.
Key to Awesomeness: It was their excellent pitch, skilled vocal dictations and that “something special” that allowed these three Peekskill High School students to advance in a national singing competition, said Lawrence Del Casale, music teacher and choral director for both the middle and high schools.
Del Casale, who has been working with these three young vocalists for the past few months to help them prepare and record songs for the audition, was surprised when he got the news that they all made it to the next level in the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Vocal Competition.
“The American Songbook is not easy,” he said. “These are talented kids who listen for the right notes and phrasing, and I was amazed they all made it through.”
The contest was established in 2009 as part of the mission of the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative: to bring the music of the Great American Songbook to young people today and to preserve it for future generations.
Senior Darrel Kidd said he gained a new perspective on this genre of music. “I was only familiar with a few songs from the American Songbook before,” he said. “Now I have a new appreciation for the songs and how they can be interpreted—there is a lot of room for improvisation.”
The students sing music from Broadway, Hollywood musicals and the Tin Pan Alley era of the early to mid-twentieth century for this unique competition.
They will attend a 2-day regional music academy in May with professional vocal coaching, and will participate in further competitions.
Winners from these regional events will travel to the Indianapolis area for a five-day comprehensive “boot-camp” June 12 -16, on interpreting and performing the music of the Great American Songbook, one that will be led by local and national performers and professionals.
The final competition takes place in June and winners will receive cash awards and an opportunity to perform with recording-artist Michael Feinstein, onstage in New York.
Kidd, who sang George Gershwin’s “Summertime” for his audition, said he is very excited for the next round of the competition and beyond. “I plan on attending Hampton University in September,” he said. “And I want to major in General Music Studies.”