Thursday, July 1, 2021 4:00 AM
Grammy-winning vocalist Catherine Russell and stage and screen stars Telly Leung and Solea Pfeiffer will join Michael Feinstein as professional mentors at this year’s Songbook Academy® summer intensive, the nation’s leading youth music program focused on the timeless standards of jazz, pop, Broadway and Hollywood.
Now in its 12th year, the Great American Songbook Foundation’s flagship education program has selected 40 top high school vocalists from 15 states coast to coast to take part in an interactive online experience the week of July 17-24. Participants are matched with vocal coaches and music directors for small-group classes and one-on-one coaching. Each day, the students will meet virtually in masterclass, lecture and workshop settings with professional mentors who will share their personal tricks of the trade, performance-based feedback and professional insight on pursuing careers in the world of performing arts and entertainment.
Several celebrity talkbacks and masterclasses will be livestreamed for public viewing during the week, and final performances will premiere online Aug. 6-8, with the schedule to be announced. News updates and video streams will be available through the Songbook Foundation’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
The Songbook Academy 2021 mentors include:
· Michael Feinstein, five-time Grammy Award nominee, music preservationist and founder of the Great American Songbook Foundation, who also emcees the week’s public events. His broadcasting work has included the PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook and the Emmy-nominated special Michael Feinstein: The Sinatra Legacy.
· Mandy Barnett, the original teen star of Always … Patsy Cline at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, frequent Grand Ole Opry performer and recording artist. Her latest studio album, Every Star Above, was recorded with a 60-piece orchestra and arranged by legendary jazz maestro Sammy Nestico.
· Trist Ethan Curless, co-founder of the pop-jazz vocal group m-pact, now a member of The Manhattan Transfer. He also has worked as an audio engineer for other famed vocal groups, including Pentatonix, Straight No Chaser, VoicePlay and Take 6.
· Telly Leung, actor and recording artist whose Broadway and touring credits include Aladdin in Disney’s Aladdin, In Transit, Allegiance (with George Takei and Lea Salonga), Godspell and Rent (final Broadway company). Among other TV credits, he appeared as Wes the Warbler on Glee.
· Solea Pfeiffer, best known as Eliza Hamilton in the first national tour of Hamilton, as well as starring in West Side Story at the Hollywood Bowl and New York City Center’s production of Evita. She is set to star in Tyler Perry’s upcoming feature film Jazzman’s Blues on Netflix and will soon be seen in the Broadway-bound adaptation of Almost Famous.
· Catherine Russell, jazz and blues vocalist and Grammy Award winner for her work on the Boardwalk Empire soundtrack. Her recent albums have included Harlem on My Mind (2016) and Alone Together (2019), both of which received Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
· Vuyo Sotashe, South African-born vocalist and composer who has performed with celebrated jazz artists including Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Heath, George Benson and Al Jarreau. He has toured with the Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra and appeared as a leader and sideman at major international jazz festivals.
Featured guests for the week will include Jonathan Flom, international theater educator and author of books including Act Like It’s Your Business: Branding and Marketing Skills for Actors; Catherine Walker, a University of Michigan professor and musical director for stage productions; and Stacy Wolf, author, professor and director of the Program in Music Theater at Princeton University.
This year’s music directors and vocal coaches include educators from leading universities and music directors who have played for artists from Frank Sinatra to Kristin Chenoweth to Chuck Berry. New to the team this year is La Tanya Hall, founder of the vocal jazz degree program at Oberlin Conservatory, who has worked with such artists as Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Michael Feinstein, Patti Labelle, Harry Belafonte and Aretha Franklin.
The Songbook Academy is sponsored nationally by the Efroymson Family Fund and made possible through the generous support of 2021 Education & Engagement Sponsors Libby and Randy Brown and the City of Carmel. The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation Mentor Champions support the involvement of a national faculty of music directors and professional vocal coaches.
About the Great American Songbook Foundation
The mission of the Great American Songbook Foundation, founded in 2007 by five-time Grammy® Award nominee Michael Feinstein, is to inspire and educate by celebrating the timeless standards of pop, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood. Headquartered at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana, the Foundation advances this rich legacy by curating physical artifacts of its creators, performers and publishers in the Songbook Library & Archives; operating a multimedia exhibit gallery; overseeing the Songbook Hall of Fame; offering programs for the public and research opportunities for scholars and artists; and providing educational opportunities for student musicians, including the annual Songbook Academy® summer intensive. The Foundation is a Cultural Affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum®. More information is available at TheSongbook.org.
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