Carmel High School well represented in Songbook Academy


Emmaline Colvin treasures the music of the Great American Songbook.

“I really enjoy the fact that the effort of the Songbook Academy and the Songbook Foundation is to keep the music of that era alive,” Colvin said. “I appreciate all those efforts as someone who is an avid listener and enjoyer of music, just knowing there is an effort being made to bring it forth to the new generation and keep its legacy going.”

Colvin, a 2024 Carmel High School graduate, will be joined at the Songbook Academy by Isaiah Henderson, who will be a senior at CHS in August, and Sadie Cohen, who will be a CHS sophomore. They are three of the 40 national finalists for the Songbook Academy, an intensive program set for July 13-20 at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. There will be a Songbook Showcase at 7 p.m. July 18 and a Songbook Academy concert at 7 p.m. July 20, both at the Palladium.

Colvin was a Songbook Academy finalist in 2022.

“It was a wonderful experience,” she said. “The entire thing felt unreal to be working with such incredible professionals the whole time. Everyone was so down and super friendly. The entire thing was just such a great learning experience and collaboration opportunity.”

Colvin learned to keep an open mind to other people’s ideas.

“Some things that you would never have thought of on your own are your most valuable assets in performing a song,” Colvin said.

Colvin was originally selected as an alternate in 2022 and 2023 and this year, twice advancing when a selected finalist couldn’t make it.

Colvin used to be more into the show tunes as a musical theater kid, but now she is into the jazz style.

“Specifically, I’ve gotten more into bebop, Dixieland jazz or cool jazz, people like Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and, of course, Ella Fitzgerald,” Colvin said.

She said the main song she is preparing is Barbra Streisand’s version of “Happy Days Are Here Again,”

Colvin will major in classical vocal performance at the Eastman School of Music, a music conservatory in Rochester, N.Y.

“That will be for opera singing, which I also have a huge passion for, but I still want to keep jazz in my life,” she said.

Cohen said she enjoys musical theater and that style of music.

“I’m excited to learn about more jazzy styles and broaden my horizon and my vocal technique,” Cohen said.

Cohen auditioned with two songs, “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Cheek to Cheek.”

“I’m excited to meet more people and get to work with all the mentors who will be working on our songs,” she said. “A lot of Civic Theatre kids have done Songbook Academy and I’ve heard good things about it. It’s different from other stuff I’ve done before. It’s not like a show. It’s a performance and working on different styles that I haven’t done before.”

Cohen had a busy start to her summer as she finished second runner-up June 29 in the Miss Indiana’s Teen competition in Zionsville.

While Cohen has never seen a Songbook Academy performance, Henderson is a regular.

“I’ve seen it for about eight years as a kid,” he said. “It always inspired me and it was my ultimate goal to try out and I did.”

Henderson, who will be in his third season with the Ambassadors mixed show choir, enjoys musical theater.

“I like the more soulful R&B songs. They’re few and far between but those are my favorite,” he said.

Songs he auditioned with are “A Song for You” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl.”

“I’m looking forward to receiving feedback from Michael Feinstein and the other esteemed guest instructors,” said Henderson, who had a lead role as the Prince in “Cinderella” in the CHS musical in May. “I plan to major in film, but I intend to keep singing as part of my life.”

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