National Anthem singers announced for graduation
By Jennifer Padilla| Published May 4, 2017
With graduation day rapidly approaching, auditions were held for commencement 2017 National Anthem singers on April 10 and April 17.
The winners had been chosen by the judges— Giulianna Viera and Steven Collins. “I am extremely honored,” said Steven Collins, who is graduating in May with a Bachelor’s in theater education at Kean University. “I was in shock at first!”
Giulianna Viera, who is also graduating in May with a bachelor in English, said that she cannot imagine how it will feel to sing in her graduation ceremony for herself and many others who will be taking their final walk as students of Kean University.
With a total of 14 participants who tried out to sing the national anthem a cappella, priority was given to those students who will be graduating in May. The students availabilities were also considered due to the rehearsals needed before the event, according to John Wooten, Producing Artists Director of Premier Stages and Director of Arts Programming at Kean.
There were two judges in the room who discussed every participant after each try- out—Wooten, who has been the judge for commencement singers at Kean University for 10 years— and Holly Logue, faculty at Kean since 1984, who chaired the Department of Theatre for more than 10 years and served as acting dean for the College of Visual and Performing Arts for four years.
“Before the audition, I sat outside the little theatre for 20 minutes,” said Collins. “I went over the lyrics and breathed deeply to calm myself.”
Collins, who has been involved in theatresince High School and has been part of various performances throughout NJ and NY, decided to audition to sing the National Anthem for the 2017 commencement ceremony because it would be the perfect end to his years at Kean University and a great way to celebrate his degree in the arts— also, because he loves to sing. Additionally, Collins taught himself to sing through YouTube videos and took one year of weekly voice lessons at Kean University.
Like Collins, Viera has also taken voice lessons here at Kean. She felt nervous through her audition, however, she felt welcomed by the judges who congratulated her on a good performance afterwards.
“I wanted to be polite but also confident when coming in,” said Viera.
She wanted to make a good impression on the judges. Viera’s music and theatre background comes from her middle school and high school years. She has been chosen to sing for various events at Kean and in the city of Elizabeth; including the memorial service on September 11 and National Night Out.
In addition, Viera has participated in musicals for the Academy for Performing Arts in Scotch Plains, NJ and for the Cranford Dramatic Club in Cranford, NJ. Therefore, auditioning to sing the National Anthem at commencement was an instant reaction for Viera.
“I made sure I didn’t drink any dairy before singing,” said Viera. “Th at tends to mess with your vocal chords and make your singing sound less pleasant.”
Fearlessly, Viera and Collins are both standing in front of thousands of strangers who will be watching them sing our National Anthem during graduation.
“I constantly went over the lyrics,” said Collins. “Th ere is nothing worst than messing up the words to our National Anthem.”