High school vocalists selected as national finalists for the American Songbook Academy in Carmel


40 vocalists from around the country participate in week-long Songbook Academy in Carmel, Indiana

The Great American Songbook Foundation, founded by Grammy-nominated vocalist, Michael Feinstein, has selected 40 students from across the country to participate in the 2015 Songbook Academy. High school vocalists representing 16 states will compete for top awards on Saturday, July 25 at the Songbook Academy final concert at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Tickets for this popular event go on sale Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at www.TheCenterPresents.org.

Now in its sixth year, the Songbook Academy provides high school singers in grades 9-12 with the life-changing opportunity to work with music industry professionals and educators from top college arts programs to experience firsthand the uniquely American and culturally significant music known as the Great American Songbook. This year, five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein is joined by Tony-nominee Laura Osnes and Grammy-winner Sylvia McNair as Mentors for the Academy.

“The Songbook Academy is one of the highlights of my year.  The young people that participate are so full of talent and passion.  I love having the opportunity to work with each of them and to see their growth over the course of the week.  Not only do they learn a lot, but they build relationships with other talented singers and mentors from coast to coast. They make memories bursting with music and, in the process, develop character, confidence, and an appreciation for our musical history,” said Michael Feinstein, founder of the Songbook Foundation and Songbook Academy.

Students from across the country submitted online applications and were selected by a panel of music educators and industry professionals. Indiana and California lead the way by sending 8 students each to the week-long academy; New York will send 4; Iowa and Illinois are sending 3 each; Missouri, Massachusetts and Louisiana are sending 2 each; and the remaining students will come from Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

All Songbook Academy participants will be eligible for the following awards:

Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador Award will receive the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to perform with two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award nominated entertainer and founder of the Songbook Foundation, Michael Feinstein. The Youth Ambassador will serve for one year and will have opportunities to perform throughout the year. Past Youth Ambassador performance opportunities have included:

  • Multiple appearances with Michael Feinstein – including Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall
  • Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Gala – with Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, Johnny Mathis, Jimmy Webb, for example
  • National Anthem at NFL game
  • Appearance with Pasadena Pops

Songbook Inspiration Award and Songbook Celebration Award winners will each receive a performance opportunity with two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award nominated entertainer and founder of the Songbook Foundation, Michael Feinstein.


The Songbook Academy will take place at the Great American Songbook Foundation’s headquarters, where students will participate in a seven-day academy on interpreting and performing the music of the Great American Songbook. Five-time Grammy nominee, Michael Feinstein, and other top music industry professionals and educators will conduct workshops and master classes throughout the week, some of which will be open to the public. The final competition performance will be held in the 1,600-seat Palladium Concert Hall at the Center for the Performing Arts.


The 2015 finalists are listed below:


Caitlin Aloia, Doylestown, PA, Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School

Kristin Barnes, Carmel, IN, Carmel High School

Tracey Beresford, Dubuque, IA, Hempstead High School

Lucas DeBard, Lebanon, IN, Lebanon High School

Elizabeth DeVoto, St. Louis, MO, Nerinx Hall High School

Avery Eliason, Lawrenceburg, IN, Lawrenceburg High School

Joseph Farr, Oklahoma City, OK, Mustang High School

Erika Gill, Darien, CT, Darien High School

Trenton Gunsolley, Colorado Springs, CO, The Classical Academy

Cate Hayman, Mill Valley, CA, Tamalpais High School

Matt Hoffman, Stony Brook, NY, Ward Melville High School

Kendra Housel, Winona Lake, IN, Warsaw Community High School

Leah Huber, Haughton, LA, Airline High School

Olivia Hytha, Berkeley, CA, Berkeley High School

DeMar Jackson, Decatur, IL, Eisenhower High School

Katriona Kennedy, Crestline, CA, Stathmore Academy

Adam Kruschwitz, Rochester, NY, Brighton High School

Drew Mabusth, Dubuque, IA, Stephen Hempstead High School

Sophia Manternach, Dubuque, IA, Stephen Hempstead High School

Rebecca Martin, Syracuse, NY, Marcellus High School

Michaela Marymor, Novato, CA, Novato High School

Jonathan Mitzenmacher, Miami, FL, Coral Reef Senior High School

Taylor Moran, Aurora, IL, Metea Valley High School

Kathleen Muloma, Carmel, IN, Carmel High School

Grace Muawad, Grosse Pointe, MI, Grosse Pointe South High School

Deirdre Pedersen, Westborough, MA, Westborough High School

Logan Rains, San Ramon, CA, California High School

Joshua Reinier, San Francisco, CA, The Nueva Upper School

Elizabeth Ross, Shreveport, LA, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

Geon Ruffin, Lisle, IL, Homeschooled

Sharada Shashidhar, Painted Post, NY, Corning Painted Post High School

Gwendolyn Sierra, Long Beach, CA, Millikan High School

Sydney Sorrell, Carmel, IN, Carmel High School

Madelyn Steurer, Jeffersonville, IN, Assumption High School

Matthew Straw, Columbia, MO, Hickman High School

Katie Swaney, Greenwood, IN, Center Grove High School

April Varner, Toledo, OH, Notre Dame Academy

Noah Virgile, Lexington, MA, Lexington High School

Hannah Vogelsang, Haslett, MI, Haslett High School

Cole Winston, Hartland, WI, Arrowhead High School