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Released May 12, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- Hope Fairchild, a graduate voice student at The University of Southern Mississippi, was the winner of the southern region National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award (NATSAA) Competition held May 1 in Monroe, La. She will compete with 14 other singers in July in New Orleans at the organization's national convention.

A student of Dr. Larry Smith, professor of voice in the School of Music at Southern Miss, Fairchild is a graduate teaching assistant in the choral area. She also serves as music associate at Petal-Harvey Baptist Church in Petal and director of the Petal-Harvey School of the Arts.

Fairchild was a former conducting graduate assistant. She led the university's Concert Choir and University Singers and was an assistant conductor for the Southern Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Gregory Fuller, director of choral activities.

"It is very exciting to have my student win such a prestigious award," Smith said. "As far as I know, this is the first time a current School of Music singer has won this award."

Smith has been Fairchild's primary voice professor and vocal coach for the last 10 years and encourages her to work with other respected singing professionals to broaden her horizons.

"He has been the individual who has challenged me most to work and achieve my fullest potential," Fairchild said.

For Fairchild, winning was quite a surprise. "I knew one of my competitors going into the competition and knew that she was well prepared," Fairchild said. "I was excited to have finally won a competition of some importance and to know that all my work had not been in vain."

The competition was not only a boost to her confidence, but it gave Fairchild a certain amount of respect from her peers. "Personally, it has shown me that I have a God-given ability that I didn't fully understand or appreciate as much as I do now."

According to the organization's Web site, "The purpose of the NATSAA Competition has been to select, through a series of elimination rounds on the district, regional, and national levels, singers whose artistry indicates that they are ready for a professional career and to encourage them toward that goal with a cash prize and the opportunity for performance engagements."

"When she competes in New Orleans this summer and hopefully wins, this will mean big things for her career," Smith said. "NATSAA will assist the winner of the competition in getting additional singing engagements and in promoting (his or) her talent. And, it would be a wonderful addition to her (Fairchild's) resume."

The competition takes place every other year, in conjunction with the NATS conventions. The finals are always scheduled as a featured part of the opening day of the convention.

"A win at the national level would definitely be an asset to any singer/teacher looking for a position at a university or in a professional singing career," Fairchild said. "It (winning) would also include a monetary prize and a public concert which has been held at Carnegie Hall in New York, a very important debut for any professional singer."

The daughter of Joe Fairchild of Oak Grove and Susan Fairchild of Purvis, the young singer has no prediction of how she will fare at the national level. "I'm not familiar with any of the other singers, but knowing that they have worked so diligently to win their regional titles, I'm sure it will be a challenging competition," she said.


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May 14, 2004 12:30 PM