Riverland Music student qualifies for national competition

Published 5:10 pm Thursday, May 9, 2024

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Riverland Community College has announced that Kaiah Gibson of Austin, a music student, has achieved outstanding success in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) regional competition, securing her place in the national level in two categories: classical voice and musical theater. 

Gibson, a first-year student working toward an Associate of Arts with Music Emphasis degree at Riverland, showcased her vocal talent in the NATS regional competition held in mid-February through video submissions. The competition drew participants from across the North Central NATS region, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Gibson’s performances were adjudicated by esteemed NATS members, marking her as one of the top talents in the region.

“It is a major accomplishment for a singer to qualify for the national level, particularly in the college freshman female categories, which typically see the largest number of competitors,” said Scott Blankenbaker, Riverland music faculty and Gibson’s voice instructor. “Qualifying in two different categories is even more impressive.”

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Gibson, an Austin High School graduate, is not only pursuing her passion for music at Riverland but also contributing to the local arts scene as a bass player in the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Her studies encompass double bass, piano, and voice, and she is an active performer in local churches and community organizations. Gibson aspires to continue her musical journey at a four-year conservatory, specializing in vocal performance.

With the national preliminary round submissions completed April 12, Gibson awaits adjudication set mid May. Successful contenders will proceed to the semi-final and final rounds, scheduled to occur in-person at the prestigious NATS National Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, from June 27-29. 

The finalists of the national competition stand to receive cash awards and invaluable feedback from some of the finest voice teachers in the nation, along with significant experience.

Competing in both the musical theater and classical categories required Gibson to perform three songs from memory, demonstrating her communication skills, vocal technique, musicianship, among other criteria. Only the top five scoring students in each category advance from regional to the national competition, from which 15 move on to the national semi-finals, culminating in a final round for the top three performers.

This year marks the second time a Riverland music student has advanced to the national level since the NATS National Student Auditions began in 2014, underscoring the college’s commitment to fostering talent.