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Lander University sophomore music major Abigail Smith, of Gainesville, Ga., has been selected to participate in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Mid-Atlantic Region Student Auditions.

Smith qualified for the event, to be held at UNC-Greensboro, in March, by winning her category, Second Year Music Theater Treble Voice, in South Carolina’s state auditions, held in the fall. Accompanied by Lander Faculty Pianist Amy Blackwood, she sang “Gotta Get Out,” from “Ordinary Days,” by Adam Gwon;” “The Music that Makes Me Dance,” from “Funny Girl,” by Julie Styne; and “What Baking Can Do,” from “Waitress,” by Sara Bareilles. She will perform the same repertoire in the upcoming regional competition.

Smith has been singing since the age of five.

“My mother played piano, and I would listen to her play and learn the songs. One of the earliest was ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ by Simon and Garfunkel. I would sneak out of my room late at night to listen to her play, and then would sit down at the piano the next day and figure out the song on my own. That was when my family first found that I could play instruments by ear.”

While growing up, she sang in churches and in music programs. As a choir member at Chestatee High School, she was a perennial all-state and honor choir performer, and was often called upon to sing the national anthem at Gwinnett Braves games. She also auditioned and was recorded for shows such as “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent,” “even getting a front of the line pass, which was crazy!”

Smith knew about Lander as a result of competing in events at the Lander Equestrian Center, and after auditioning for the music department, she decided that Lander was where she wanted to be.

“I feel as if the whole music department truly cares about my success and wants to see me thrive within the program, and I couldn’t be more thankful for their guidance,” she said.

Associate Professor of Music Dr. Lila Noonkester, who serves as chair of the Department of Music, said that Smith’s voice “is a natural fit for the musical theatre repertoire. She has a lovely vocal instrument and a knack for creating characters and dramatic scenes. Judges have remarked that she is ‘very musical’ and ‘a great storyteller,’ that her voice has a ‘beautiful color,’ and that she displays ‘energy and commitment right from the beginning’ of the audition. Abigail moves easily from one style to the next and from one character to the next. She is always prepared and engaged in lessons, and she intends to work hard to continue to improve her performances.”

After graduating from Lander, Smith wants to study music therapy.

“My true passion lies in helping others. I feel that it is only fair that I share the love of music with others, and hopefully spread the inspiration and passion that it has provided me,” she said.

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