Teen is again taking part in Grammy Week events

C. Samantha McKevie/Staff
Julia Easterlin, of John S. Davidson Fine Arts School, again has been chosen to sing with the Gibson/Baldwin Grammy Jazz Ensemble during programs in Los Angeles.

When Julia Easterlin learned she was one of two sopranos selected by the Grammy Foundation after a national search to participate in the Gibson/Baldwin Grammy Jazz Ensembles program last year, she couldn't believe it.


After performing at events surrounding the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 2006, the John S. Davidson Fine Arts School senior decided to make another audition tape and send it in, although she was skeptical about being chosen twice.

Then, about a month ago, she learned she had been selected again.

"Last year, I was shocked; I didn't really think I would get it. I just sent in my tape and crossed my fingers," said Julia, 17. "I had an amazing time last year; it was a great opportunity. No reason I wouldn't try again.

"So I put my best foot forward. I still had to go through the whole audition process; there's no guarantee I'd make it back in - and I am, I made it back."

Julia was one of 30 high school students from across the country flown to Los Angeles this weekend for the jazz ensemble's program. The ensemble has an eight-member choir, a jazz combo of four and a jazz band of 18.

Heather Lewandoski, an account executive for the program, said being chosen is a prestigious opportunity, with only the top vocalists and instrumentalists considered from hundreds of audition tapes.

"Kids from all across the country submit tapes of themselves to be in this ensemble, and there's a total of only 30 in the band combined," she said. "This is pretty big for high school students to come out and participate in Grammy Week events."

Ms. Lewandoski said the ensemble will open for Tony Bennett and will meet with the rock band OK Go at Capitol Records studios.

After performing at Grammy-related parties and events - including the Grammy Celebration Party - the ensemble will attend the televised 49th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.

Julia said participants were sent the music they would be performing so they could prepare before flying to Los Angeles. There was a rehearsal Monday, and after that the group "hit the ground running" with performances, she said.

Despite the party atmosphere they are in, the teenagers in the ensemble quickly learned there would be little cutting up on their part, Julia said.

"They (the instructors) are very disciplined," she said. "They impress upon the kids you have to be very professional."

Being with the ensemble is an enriching experience, Julia said.

"I'm very honored. It's definitely an honor and a wonderful experience," she said. "One of the great things is meeting fellow musicians my own age who are as passionate as we all are. It's a really great experience, really nice to have that communion between people."

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.


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