SAVANNAH, GA – December 9, 2020 – The American Traditions Vocal Competition (ATC) is thrilled to announce its star-studded lineup of judges for its virtual 2021 season: two-time Tony nominee, singer, actress, songwriter and recording artist Kate Baldwin; Grammy winner, nominee, and acclaimed jazz vocalist, Kurt Elling; and Grammy nominee and renowned opera singer Lawrence Brownlee. The 28th Annual ATC will begin virtually on Tuesday, Feb. 9, with 28 contestants competing in the quarterfinals. The highly lauded judges will take the stage for the ATC’s traditional Judge’s concert on Tuesday, Feb. 16. The competition week continues through Saturday, Feb. 19 with rounds of competition featuring some of the best vocal performers in the world.
Kate Baldwin starred opposite both Bette Midler and Bernadette Peters in the 2017 Tony-winning revival of Hello Dolly!, garnering accolades for her sparkling humor and soaring voice. She was nominated for the 2017 Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her performance as Irene Molloy. Her starring role in the 2009 Broadway revival of Yip Harburg’s and Burton Lane’s hit classic musical Finian’s Rainbow drew Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, and put her on the map as “a real musical theatre star” (New York Post). She received a Drama Desk Award nomination for her role as Jen in Keen Company’s 20th Anniversary revival of Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald’s John & Jen. She starred as Sandra Bloom in Big Fish on Broadway and earned accolades and a Drama Desk Award nomination for her work as Leslie Lynnton Benedict in Giant at The Public Theater. Off Broadway, she drew raves in Songbird (59E59) and a Lortel Award nomination for her work in Superhero (Second Stage). Kate’s new show titled How Did You Get This Number? features signature songs from her acclaimed performances in Finian’s Rainbow, Giant, Big Fish, and Hello Dolly!
Renowned for his singular combination of robust swing and poetic insight, Grammy winner and 12-time nominee Kurt Elling has secured his place among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. Declared “the standout male vocalist of our time” by The New York Times, Elling has garnered unprecedented accolades, including a 14-year run atop the DownBeat Critics Poll, a dozen GRAMMY nominations, and eight Jazz Journalists Association awards for “Male Singer of the Year.” Elling’s most recent release, Secrets Are the Best Stories, continues the explorations begun on his Grammy-nominated The Questions, delving even deeper into life’s most challenging philosophical puzzles alongside renowned pianist Danilo Pérez, whose work embraces a unifying global vision. Whether transforming timeless standards or crafting his own enthralling originals, Elling balances elegant lyricism and technical mastery with emotional depth and keen observations into the human condition.
Lawrence Brownlee is a leading figure in opera, both as a singer on the world’s top stages, and as a voice for activism and diversity in the industry. Captivating audiences and critics around the globe, he has been hailed as “an international star in the bel canto operatic repertory” (The New York Times), “one of the world’s leading bel canto stars” (The Guardian), and “one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today” (NPR). Amidst the challenges of COVID-19, Brownlee has emerged as a pivotal voice in classical music’s shift toward digital programming and the resurgence of conversations around racial justice. In May 2020, he launched “The Sitdown with LB,” a weekly Facebook Live series that explores the experience of being an African-American opera singer. The ongoing series has featured Brownlee in conversation with renowned artists like George Shirley, Denyce Graves, Martina Arroyo, J’Nai Bridges, Angel Blue, and others. A passionate advocate for diversity initiatives, Brownlee works with companies and engages civic organizations in the cities he visits to create programs and experiences seeking to expand opera audiences.
“The American Traditions Vocal Competition is thrilled to have gathered such a revered group of artists as our judges for this year’s virtual competition. While there have been many blows to the performing arts due to the ongoing global pandemic, a silver lining is that the schedules of these fantastic performers lined up to create one of our most dynamic and engaging adjudication panels ever! We couldn’t imagine a better group of judges for our virtual competition,” ATC Artistic Director Mikki Sodergren said. “Each year, the ATC celebrates the diversity intrinsic in classic American song through the experiences of all the songwriters and musicians who have come before us, but for our 2021 virtual offering, we will also be celebrating the artists who are bringing these songs to life, and lifting them up, turning a year of great loss in the arts into a joyful and songful experience.”
The American Traditions Vocal Competition celebrates and preserves all styles of classic American music. The organization promotes these songs by producing an annual vocal competition in Savannah, Georgia, that awards over $35,000 in cash prizes. The ATC is committed to serving the great Savannah community. The organization provides musical education, musical opportunities and performances for Savannah locals of all ages. This 501(c)(3) arts institution was born of the desire to foster and preserve traditions of musical expressions, which have been significant in the culture of the United States, by celebrating the repertoire that represents both the art and the popular cultures of our country.
For more information about this annual vocal competition, taking place Feb. 9-19, 2021, please visit www.americantraditionscompetition.com.
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