It all started at a dinner table of 10 notable music, journalism, and philanthropy experts whom have never met before but have one thing in common – keeping American music alive. With genres such as jazz, blues, and musical theater, it is not uncommon for modern day high-schoolers to be blind to this delicacy. However, The Michael Feinstein Great American Song Initiative is showing them the light. With a mission of bringing the music of the Great American Songbook to young people of today, this non- for-profit combs through several high schools, across the country to compete for the title of 2013 Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador. The first place winner not only receives the coveted title of Youth Ambassador, but also $3000 in cash, the opportunity to sing the nation anthem at an NFL game and a chance to perform with Michael Feinstein himself.
During the preliminaries, each student is paired up with a mentor. This year’s notable mentors/judges include Grammy Award Winner Catharine Russell and the famed concert headliners Will & Anthony Nunziata. While attending the semi-finals in New York, it was clear that these students were talented beyond their years. One young lady, Nicole Bocchi, was clearly made for Broadway. Semifinalist Julia Goodwin vocally caressed the song “Feeling Good” from the 1964 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd while Brandon Ociafino, also a semifinalist, used songs from the Great American Songbook to showcase his impeccable vocal ability.
Michael Feinstein is doing a wonderful thing to preserve the music of the Great American Songbook. In addition to the launch of the Great American Song Book Hall of Fame, Michael is also connecting industry newbies with the greats thus giving students an invaluable platform to learn, build and stand firm in the every changing, music industry. Way to go, Michael!
– Whitney Forbes