Alana Scott, a Zachary High choir and drama student, received a huge honor following a recent performance at Festival Disney.
Scott, who played Motormouth Maybelle in “Hairspray” and the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz” — both ZHS productions — was offered an opportunity to attend the Jazz in July Summer Music Program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst July 13-24.
Scott is an active member of the Advanced Chorus A Cappella Choir at Zachary High, its extracurricular audition group, Bronco Beat, and her church’s youth choir and praise team. She has played Carla in New Venture Theatre’s production of “In The Heights” and showcased her vocal abilities by singing the jazz standard “Summertime” in the 2014 Black History Month program for the Zachary community.
“Vocal music is my passion and my primary apparatus of expression, and I plan to pursue a career in musical performance and then a career in musical education at a high school or college level,” Scott said. “I believe in getting as much training as I can to refine my musical capabilities and taking advantage of whatever opportunities I can to advance myself.”
In April, ZHS Jazz Band Director Donny Alexander gave Scott the opportunity to perform as the vocal soloist during the band’s performance of “The Nearness of You” at Festival Disney in Orlando, which evaluates and ranks high school choruses and bands.
“In studying the piece and experimenting with different vocal styles, I realized how important jazz music is in my life,” Scott said. “From a very young age, I’ve been interested in famous singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Pearl Bailey, and have always loved researching and discovering patterns and techniques that I could utilize to further distinguish myself as an artist.”
Following her performance, Willie Hill, director of the Fine Arts Center at UMass Amherst and a professor in music education, greeted Scott personally.
“He congratulated me, saying how impressed he was with my performance,” Scott said. “Then he offered to waive my tuition at the summer music program.”
Jazz in July is a concentrated two-week program that focuses on all aspects of jazz music from bands and instrumentalists to vocalists, instructing students on technique and performance. The summer intensive allows participants to study jazz improvisation with some of the nation’s best jazz educators and artists.
“Alana is one of our great talents that gives back,” said Jen Masterson, ZHS talented theater teacher. “We are so happy for her and this wonderful opportunity.”
Worth $1,200, the scholarship did not cover room and board, transportation or meals but thanks to friends, teachers, the community and several anonymous donors, Scott raised additional expense money via a fundraising website.
Scott said she’s grateful to everyone for their help, consideration and donations.