This summer’s Songbook Academy summer intensive will have a different feel.
Instead of being conducted at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, it will be presented in an online format from July 12 to 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Emily Legg, who will be a senior at Fishers High School in the fall, is still thrilled to be selected as one of the 40 vocalists from across the nation.
The group includes three Zionsville Community High School students, Hayden Elefante, Lily Cross and Mahesh Gupta; two Carmel High School students, Emily Chrzanowski and Cara Nowlin; and Noblesville High School student Leah Spurlock.
“I was so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to be one of the finalists for Songbook Academy,” Legg said. “I watched so many performances on YouTube from previous years and was so amazed by all of the talented people who have attended in the past. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to grow as a performer as well as learn from the amazing coaches and talented attendees. It’s been really inspiring to learn about the great American songbook and how it has impacted music as we know it today.
“Although I am disappointed that it cannot be in-person this year, I think that there are still so many amazing opportunities available for us online. Regardless of the online format, I’m so honored to have this opportunity to learn, grow, and preform.”
The Songbook Academy, in its 11th year, is the only youth music intensive focused on standards from the worlds of jazz, Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley.
“I love the Songbook music,” Legg said. “It inspired so many performers, singers and musicians today and has greatly influenced the music industry in general. One of my favorite songbook artists is Judy Garland. She was such a genuine performer and humble artist. She is an inspiration to me, as are many of the Songbook artists. I’m really excited to learn and get feedback from the amazing coaches. I’m excited to get to know the other finalists and watch their performances as well.”
The 40 finalists will take part in an interactive experience of professional vocal training, performance coaching, workshops, daily social activities and educational masterclasses with a star-studded team of mentors led by five-time Grammy Award nominee and Songbook Foundation Founder Michael Feinstein.
“While we are saddened we can’t gather on campus this year, we are guided by our first priority: Ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, volunteers, guests and the entire Songbook Academy community,” stated Christopher Lewis, executive director of the Great American Songbook Foundation. “Fortunately, our staff and teaching faculty have been working proactively since mid-March to develop a plan that preserves the quality, the camaraderie and the personalized nature of the experience.”
In addition to Feinstein and the vocal coaches and music directors who will work with the finalists, this year’s guest mentors include pianist/arranger Scott Bradlee, founder of the genre-blending Postmodern Jukebox video series and touring production; Tony and Grammy Award-nominated actress Ashley Park, whose Broadway work includes “Mean Girls,” “Grand Horizons,” “The King and I” and “Sunday in the Park with George”; actor/singer Faith Prince, a multiple Tony Award nominee and Best Actress winner for her role in “Guys and Dolls”; and nine-time Grammy winner and 17-time Grammy nominee Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer. Other names will be announced soon.
Although health guidelines prohibit the customary schedule of public performances during Academy Week, many of the educational sessions will be available for live public viewing on Facebook and YouTube. The week will culminate July 18 in an all-day performance showcase hosted by Feinstein and streamed online for families, friends and the public to enjoy. More information and a schedule of events are available at TheSongbook.org/SongbookAcademyOnline.
This year’s application process drew entries from hundreds of students representing 28 states. The Top 40 finalists selected by the admissions panel hail from 16 states.