Troy students make it to NATS finals

Lacey Alexander

Staff Writer

Troy University students from the theater and music departments earned accolades this weekend from a statewide singing competition.

The Alabama chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, or NATS, holds an annual singing competition for students.

Three Troy students made the final round in their respective categories at this year’s competition at Samford University in Birmingham, with two making the semifinal round.

Two students, Carol Anne Osbourne and Shawn Burkett, placed first in their categories.

The categories at the NATS competitions are divided by two genres, musical theater singers and classical singers, and by age group. The ages represented at the competition range from high school students to graduate level adults.

The competing students were required to memorize and perform multiple songs for judges from different universities.

“It’s beneficial because you’re learning repertoire and challenging yourself in performance,” said Christine Amonson, a music assistant professor at Troy who serves as a vocal coach for some of the students that competed. “You see a lot of different students… how they sing, what they’re singing and how they’re performing it.”

To attend a NATS competition, a student is required be taking lessons from a certified NATS teacher, and that teacher must agree to judge a category at the competition.

Amonson, who has been a certified NATS teacher for 12 years, said that she has taken students to the Alabama NATS competition all four years that she has been employed at Troy.

“The music department has been great about supporting us,” Amonson said. “It’s always exciting to see how our students improve.”

Catherine Allard, another music professor at Troy, is also NATS certified and joined her students at the competition.

The competition is two days long, and both days conclude with a “finals concert” where all of the students that made the final round in their categories sing in front of the attendees.

Shelby Steverson, a senior theater major from Crestview, Florida, said that watching the concert is beneficial.

“It was refreshing to hear the vocal talent from the students at other universities,” said Steverson, who made the finals in his category. “I found that Troy University sets a high bar for excellence.”

The Alabama NATS competition is held at a different Alabama university every year. Amonson said that next year Troy will be hosting the Alabama NATS competition for the first time.

“We now have the facilities, and we’ll be hosting 400 students and 80 professors,” Amonson said. “It’ll be a great recruiting opportunity for Troy University.”

The state finalists are eligible to compete at regional NATS, where they will compete for a possible slot at the national competition.

“I’m ecstatic … We are a small state university that no one really expects to have this kind of quality in our singers,” Amonson said. “But our students work hard … They win awards and go on to higher levels and prepare for their careers.”

All four years that Amonson has attended Alabama NATS with her students, Troy has been represented in the finals.

“I love the journey of it … To sit back and watch them give it their all gets me choked up,” Amonson said. “These students have something to say with their music.”

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