Carmel participants eager for jazzy performances at Songbook Academy


After two years of being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Songbook Academy will be back in person.

Sarah Warf views that as great news.

“I heard great things about the virtual experience, but I think it will be really special to work in person with everyone,” Warf said. “It will put us in a better level of bonding with the people around us and our mentors.”

Warf is one of four Carmel residents among the 40 finalists from around the nation selected participate in the summer intensive set for July 16 to 23 at the Great American Songbook Foundation’s home at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. There will be a showcase July 21 and a concert July 23 at the Palladium.

Warf and fellow finalist Ayaan Abbasi are 2022 CHS graduates who will be freshmen at Indiana University this fall. The other finalists from CHS are Seth Jacobsen, who will be a senior next month, and Emmaline Colvin, who will be a junior. All four share a love of jazz.

“I’m looking forward to meeting a bunch of people with the common interest of singing and doing intensive work with some amazing professionals,” said Warf, who plans to major in arts management with a minor in theater.

Warf is eager to learn more about music and the Songbook era.

“I think one of the cool things about a lot of the music from that time period can be played with and jazzed up,” Warf said. “I think this will be a really good week for experimenting styles.”

Warf, who is a big fan of Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald, was in Select Sound, the a cappella choir at CHS and appeared in theater productions.

Jacobsen performs in the Ambassadors, the mixed show choir and Repertory Theatre.

“I’ve seen Songbook for the last three or four years and I’ve always been a huge fan,” Jacobsen said. “I look forward to meeting everyone involved in Songbook and working with the super talented guests.”

Jacobsen said he is a bass singer and the octaves in the music now is so much higher.

“I really like the jazz era because I feel that’s where Songbook differentiates itself from other eras because it’s the start of that,” he said. “It’s like the golden age of jazz. I really like Duke Ellington and Cole Porter.”

Colvin said the Songbook era is close to her heart.

“I was raised listening to all kinds of music from the ’40s to the ’80s,” Colvin said. “I’m definitely a fan of listening to Ella Fitzgerald. I do enjoy some revival versions like Michael Bublé and Tony Bennett. I enjoy the originals the most because it is so raw and pure to the genre. I like the simplicity. I’m excited to focus on the specific genre of jazz because I really enjoy singing it a lot. I’m classically trained and I’ve done a lot of musical theater and there is not a lot of opportunity to sing this style.

Colvin, who won her CarmelFest Has Talent 13-16 age division July 3, said her goal is to become a professional jazz singer.

Colvin was in Accents, the all-female show choir at CHS as a sophomore. She will be in the Ambassadors and Select Sound this year, along with being a returning member of Repertory Theatre.

Abbasi also said he loves the jazz era of the Songbook.

“Especially how it was reinvigorated by Tony Bennett in the 1960s,” said Abbasi, who is going to be a freshman at IU’s Kelley School of Business. “I am really interested in keeping music part of my life but I’m really interested in business, that’s something I’ve loved for the past four years. A lot of my time was focused on DECA, a business organization, but I also spent a lot of time in choir.”

Abbasi was in the New Edition choir at CHS. He also has performed at Summer Stock Stage, recently appearing in “The Addams Family.”

“I really want to learn more about acting, that’s something I struggle with and want to get better on through the Songbook Academy,” Abbasi said.

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