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Performers readying for fourth annual Heafner-Williams Vocal Competition

It is often said that a civilization is remembered more for its contributions to arts and science than for most anything else.
One need only look to the Roman Empire as an example how much truth there is to that. Short of its military conquests and its decline in morality before it caved in on itself, what is there that can be said that has lasted through the ages?
Its gods and architecture were borrowed from the Greeks. Other than Seneca and Cato, not much remains or is known about its culture, be it plays, literature, artwork, philosophy, science, sports. In short, it was known primarily for its violence; to wit, its wanton blood lust that escalated as its citizenry grew soft and jaded.
Compare it to succeeding societies in which the arts had a more effective impact. While we may look upon artifacts such as coins, ruins and weaponry of war, it is the artwork, music, literature, et al, that grab our hearts and imaginations.
That is why it is important to support the arts, not just as patrons and audience members, but in a more active capacity. Here in Lincoln County, that is what the fourth annual Heafner-Williams Vocal Competition is about: Supporting and encouraging the artists of tomorrow who possess and display their singing voices as their instrument.
From Friday through Monday, 15 young men and women from across North Carolina — the largest turnout thus far — will be performing and competing for a series of prizes.
All week long, the Lincoln Times-News will run biographies and photos of those entrants, presented in alphabetical order. Listed below are the first five:

Mary Elizabeth Baker, 17, is a senior at Bessemer City High School. She is a member of First Baptist Church, Bessemer City and has been a member of the children and youth choirs. She has participated in several church musicals with solos and has also provided special music selections for worship services.
She was a member of the chorus at Bessemer City Middle School and participated in the Gaston All-County recital. She has participated in talent shows, formal recitals and performed at the Miss Golden Hours pageant.
Baker has been taking voices lessons for less than a year and has had few experiences in classical performance, yet she has a strong passion to continue learning and to perform. She has been accepted to Appalachian State University and plans to continue to pursue a career in vocal performance or music therapy.

Erich Rene Barbera was born in Laredo, Texas. He began singing at the age of 10 as a boy soprano in the San Antonio Boys’ Choir, then joined the choir in his freshman year of junior high as a soprano. He competed as a tenor for the All-State Choir in his junior and senior years.
He was invited to the Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria in the summer of 2003, and the Vocal Arts Symposium of Colorado Springs in 2004. After studying briefly at the University of Texas in San Antonio on scholarship, Barbera won the largest award given to undergraduate vocalists at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he is currently a sophomore in college. He is a student of Marilyn Taylor.

Ryan Deal is a native of Statesville and currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he studies vocal performance under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Bracey. Comfortable both in classical repertoire and musical theater, Deal is no stranger to the stage at both the amateur and professional level. He has worked extensively with the UNCG Opera Theatre and has also worked repeatedly with the North Carolina Theatre in Raleigh, where he has shared the stage with some of Broadway’s greatest talent. He looks forward to completing his bachelor degree in December and pursuing graduate level work in vocal music.

Rory Dunn attends Catawba College in Salisbury and will graduate this spring with a BFA in Musical Theater.
An actor since he was four, Dunn’s first role was Sandy the dog in “Annie.” Years later he performed the role of Rooster Hannigan in another production. This summer, he will return for a second year at Montana’s Bigfork Summer Playhouse.

Idra Green hails from Piedmont, S.Ca. Her musical talents were recognized at an early age, when she began singing at the tender age of two. By age five, she was singing with the children’s choir.
Not only was she a member of various choral groups and church choirs, she learned how to play the clarinet and taught herself how to play the saxophone and the oboe.
Green has also developed a love for composing and arranging music. She is currently a senior majoring in music business merchandising and management (voice principal), pursuing a bachelor of science degree at Winston-Salem State University. She currently studies voice under the tutelage of D’Walla Simmons Burke.
While at Winston-Salem Sate, she has performed in vocal competitions and placed. Presently, she is a member of the Winston-Salem State University Choir and the Winston-Salem State University Burke Singers. Upon graduation, she will attend graduate school and fulfill her dreams of becoming a professional singer, composer, and arranger.
She has been the recipient of three departmental academic and talent scholarships for three consecutive years: Bernice Davenport Scholarship, Bernard Foy Scholarship, and the Winston-Salem State University Choir Scholarship.
by Steve Steiner

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