SILER CITY, N.C. — Several local students took top prizes last night at “Sing and Play ’19” during a spirited musical competition at Jordan-Matthews High School. The second-annual showcase was a benefit concert for JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation.
Audience members voted Jack and Jillian Dixon of Silk Hope School as best performance in the elementary division on the strength of their performance of the bluegrass favorite “Old Rattler."
Buck and Maggie Thornton of Chatham Middle School received the most votes among middle schoolers for their rendition of “When Will I Be Loved,” a song written by Phil Everly and recorded by The Everly Brothers.
And in the high school competition, Jennifer Trejo Benitez of Jordan-Matthews High School came out on top thanks to her vocal performance of “Consequences,” made popular by recording artist Camila Cabello.
In all, 17 students competed for prizes with the winner of each age-based competition receiving a $50 award.
“It’s so wonderful to see these students honing their performance skills in front of a live audience,” said Greg Burriss, who directed the competition. “And we love the enthusiastic support our community is giving to arts education at Jordan-Matthews.”
“Sing and Play ’19” was hosted by Sydney Suits, a senior arts student at Jordan-Matthews. It was her first-ever gig as an emcee, though the talented visual artist has appeared on stage many times with the Jordan-Matthews chorus and in musicals — most recently as Flounder in the school’s fall production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.”
Rose Pate, president of JMArts, said plenty of people came together to bring this second-annual musical competition to life. “I couldn't be prouder of how our school community has worked together to make this event a success,” she said. “We've had parents, staff, community volunteers and especially our students pitching in for a great evening for a great cause!”
"Sing and Play" was organized as a benefit for JMArts. All money raised by the competition will be used by JMArts to provide opportunities for high school artists, including its second-annual New York Arts Adventure. That trip scheduled over spring break gives upperclass musicians, actors and visual artists an opportunity to explore one of the world’s great cities, experience the very best in the arts, and gain new perspectives and experiences that will influence their lives and work.
The students will enjoy the opportunity to meet and learn from Broadway actor Andy Grotelueschen, noted graffiti artist JCORP and Washington Post Chief Theater Critic Peter Marks.
Musicians from Chatham County and beyond were eligible to audition for the showcase concert. About 40 musicians auditioned in early February with showcase contestants selected by Burriss and musician Joseph Walden.
Pate expects “Sing and Play” to return next year with registration for auditions opening sometime around December 1. JMArts is already looking at possible dates for next year’s competition, which is likely to be held once again in mid- to late-February.
More information about “Sing and Play,” including photos from this year's auditions and showcase concert, is online at facebook.com/JMHSArts. Details about JMArts and other events scheduled for this season are available at jmarts.org.
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