Samantha Staton, a 23-year-old soprano, won first place in the Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition Sunday at the Lincoln Cultural Center.
Diane Turbyfill / Lincoln Times-News
Young singers competed for cash awards Sunday at the Lincoln Cultural Center.
For the second year Carolyn Heafner and Robert Williams hosted the Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition.
Six competitors sang four songs each in front of an audience and panel of judges. Three pieces were chosen by the performer, one by the judges.
Samantha Staton took first place in the competition and was awarded $1,500. A 23-year-old soprano, she graduated from Gardner Webb University in May 2003 with a bachelor of arts in sacred music. She is a member of Opera Carolina and teaches as an adjunct instructor of voice at GWU.
Rory Dunn was awarded second place and a $1,000 cash prize, and Lakiesha Ross placed third and won $500.
Encouragement grants of $100 each were awarded to Kathryn Ford Graham, Ryan Sigmon and Elizabeth Murphy.
Vocalists not only win money during the competition, they gain valuable experience performing for judges and a live audience, said Heafner.
“We hope that they will have gained something from the experience,” she said.
A native of Lincolnton, Heafner is an international opera singer. She has performed with the Santa Fe Opera, the Opera of Northern Virginia and the Lake George Opera in the U.S. For five years she sang leading roles at the Bremen Opera Company in Germany with guest performances throughout Europe.
Williams has performed in commercials, movies, operetta and concerts. He toured New Zealand singing Rodolfo in “La Boheme” and performed with the Toledo Opera, the Boston Arts Festival, the St. Louis Festival Opera, the Kansas City Lyric Theater, the New York Grand Opera and the New Jersey Opera.
Heafner and Williams remember countless auditions and competitions during the course of their careers. They bring knowledge and encouragement to the performers and the theatrical arts.
“We are just so impressed with the amount of talent weâ€™ve found in such a small area. Itâ€™s amazing,” said Heafner.
Sunday was the second Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition.
The six competitors were chosen from applications and submitted recordings. The competition was strictly for vocalists in a six-county area. Heafner said next yearâ€™s competition will be even bigger, including a larger geographic region.
The weekend event began Friday night with a variety show. The reception hall of the Lincoln Cultural Center was filled with entertainers and audiences.
Last yearâ€™s winner Markus Beam performed Saturday night in the performance hall.
“Our winnerâ€™s concert was spectacular,” said Heafner. “Markus was just wonderful.”by Diane Turbyfill