Two voice students from the Academy of the Arts at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith -- Jade Espina and Aspen Knight -- placed second and third respectively in competition at the spring conference for the Arkansas Chapter of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing).
Espina, 16, of Fort Smith, is the daughter of Shala Klutts and Dario Espina and is a student at Northside High School. Knight, also 16, from Van Buren, is the daughter of Shawntell Knight and is a student at Van Buren High School. Both students reached the finals of Category 1, high school women, and received a small cash award for their achievement.
Espina and Knight are voice students of Dr. Katherine White of Fort Smith, who is on the Academy’s voice faculty. As a member of NATS, White is eligible to bring her students to NATS conferences to compete and to take advantage of training opportunities for young singers.
Espina and Knight both said they had great experiences at the conference. Espina called the advice from judges “helpful” as she improves her skills as a singer.
“What I loved most about this opportunity to compete was the close to four-hour concert where all the singers performed who had made it to the finals,” said Espina. “The amount of talent in the state of Arkansas that was displayed on the stage was breathtaking.”
Knight said she appreciated the opportunity to attend the conference.
“I now know what to expect for years to come,” said Knight. “My favorite part of the whole weekend was watching the other students perform. Everyone showed so much support for each other. It was such a blessing to perform along with the other talented students.”
White said NATS was formed in 1944 and is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world with more than 7,000 members in the United States, Canada and more than 25 other countries.
“I am honored to be a member of NATS,” said White. “It is a high-quality organization with a serious commitment to young singers. When we bring our students to NATS, in addition to being able to get feedback from other voice professionals, they can see and hear other students their age from the state and the region.”
The Academy of the Arts at UAFS provides a curriculum of activities geared to children and teens and currently offers a preschool MusikGarten program, art classes for elementary-age children, private music lessons and music theory classes, as well as instrumental, choral and theatre programs. Dr. Rosilee Walker Russell of Fort Smith serves as executive director of the Academy.
For more information about the Academy, contact Russell at 479-788-7546.