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Maddie Baillio named Songbook Youth Ambassador

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2014 Songbook Youth Ambassador Maddie Baillio
  • 2014 Songbook Youth Ambassador Maddie Baillio
In its fifth year, the Great American Songbook High School Vocal Academy and Competition definitely has a following and a niche. With attire ranging from formal with upswept hairdos to beachwear, an eclectic array of people practically filled the Palladium July 25 for the competition's final round.

At the end of a three-hour evening, the lasting impression is that this group of 15-18 year olds, meeting for perhaps the first time, have bonded towards a unique goal — carrying forward the heritage of The Great American Songbook and supporting each other.

A demonstrative audience showed appreciation for each of the twelve finalists, who were repeatedly referred to as “winners” even if only one would be designated the grand winner.

It’s a given they all have fine vocal skills. But it’s the un-definable, un-teachable x-factor that ultimately sets one apart, and it was Maddie Baillio from League City, Texas who wowed with her interpretations of “Misty” and “Murder, He Says.”

She also turned out to be the audience favorite, if you take into account sustained applause for each of her appearances — and conversations overheard during intermission when people talked as openly about the program and the performers as one ordinarily would expect at sports events.  

Baillio is the 2014 Songbook Youth Ambassador, gaining a $3,000 scholarship and a year of appearances with Michael Feinstein. Nia Savoy of Shreveport, Louisiana was named Songbook Inspiration Award and Grayson Samuels of St. Petersburg, Florida was named Songbook Celebration Award, each receiving $1,000 toward continuing their music education.

2013 winner Julia Goodwin, on her way to perform at Radio City Music Hall, passed the torch with two songs that she said expressed the impact of her year’s experience under the direct mentorship of Michael Feinstein. With “You Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “What a Wonderful World,” Goodwin reminded the finalists always to recognize the people who help them along the way to develop their careers and live their dreams.

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