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National finalists named for first online Songbook Academy

5/27/2020 12AM

This year's Top 40 Songbook Academy finalists hail from 16 states.

Shift to online format will maintain quality of experience, with guest mentors
including Scott Bradlee, Janis Siegel and Broadway’s Ashley Park and Faith Prince


CARMEL, IN – Forty of the nation’s top high school vocalists have been selected to participate in the 2020 Songbook Academy® summer intensive, a week of personal instruction and mentoring from arts and entertainment professionals presented each year by the Great American Songbook Foundation.


Now in its 11th year, the Songbook Academy is the only youth music intensive focused on timeless standards from the worlds of jazz, Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley. Typically offered on-site at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, where the Songbook Foundation is headquartered, the program is shifting to an online format this year in response to the logistical and safety issues posed by the ongoing pandemic.


Michael Feinstein and Student

Michael Feinstein leads a masterclass.

Still, during the week of July 12-18, the 40 finalists can expect an unforgettable 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,” said 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 will include:

  • Pianist and 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 and singer Faith Prince, multiple Tony Award nominee and Best Actress winner for her role in Guys and Dolls;
  • Nine-time Grammy winner and 17-time Grammy nominee Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer;
  • and other names to be announced soon.


Although current health guidelines prohibit the customary schedule of in-person public performances during Academy Week, many of the education 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


On completing the program, each year’s participants are welcomed into the Songbook Academy Alumni Network to maintain their connections and stay informed about college programs, auditions and performance opportunities. Notable alumni include Maddie Baillio (2014), who starred as Tracy Turnblad in NBC’s Hairspray Live! and appeared in the 2018 Netflix comedy feature Dumplin’; and Melinda Rodriguez (2013), who won the 2019 Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition and recently appeared on Season 17 of NBC’s The Voice.


This year’s application process drew entries from hundreds of students representing 28 states, all of whom have received personal feedback on their audition videos. The Top 40 finalists selected by the admissions panel hail from 16 states.


The Indiana finalists are:

Emily Chrzanowski, Carmel High School

Lily Cross, Zionsville Community High School

Hayden Elefante, Zionsville Community High School

Annie Flowers, Park Tudor School, Indianapolis

Jonathan Grimes, Avon High School

Mahesh Gupta, Zionsville Community High School

Emily Legg, Fishers High School

Alexa Margolius, Avon High School

Cara Nowlin, Carmel High School

Samantha Shelton, Avon High School

Leah Spurlock, Noblesville High School

Camden Zetty, Avon High School


Finalists from elsewhere include:

Hannah Bank, New Albany, OH

Eve Begelman, Greenville, SC

Tess Biberaj, New York, NY

Ava DeCroix, Middleton, WI

Michael Di Leo, Waban, MA

Lydia Diekmann, Pittsford, NY

Lauren Effertz, Los Angeles, CA

Grace Elliott, Pittsburgh, PA

Lila Harris, Ann Arbor, MI

Sean Hodges, Sterling Heights, MI

Elizabeth Howlett, Lake Forest Park, WA

Natalie Johnson, Aurora, IL

Eleni Kontzamanys, Coral Gables, FL

Tessa Korver, Seattle, WA

Ellie Lauter, Larkspur, CA

Rob Luedtke, Sugar Grove, IL

Maggie MacKenzie, La Cañada Flintridge, CA

Oliviana Marie, Los Angeles, CA

Graham Montgomery, Bossier City, LA

Quiana Morris, Savannah, GA

Grace Mozitis, Linwood, NJ

Grant Nalty, Doylestown, PA

Ava Nicole Frances, San Francisco, CA

Alexandria Reese, Chicago, IL

Olivia Scott, Panama City, FL

Amanda Swickle, Jericho, NY

Victoria Lourdes Whatley, Fairhope, AL

Brooke Wilson, Shreveport, LA


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; 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