Cherokee students rate superior in state voice competition
Cherokee Nation citizen and voice coach Barbara McAlister introduces her students during the 13th annual Voice Recital on May 5 at the Sequoyah High School chapel in Tahlequah. She had seven Cherokee students who went to the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association state competition and all received superior ratings. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Megan Jacobs, right, a senior at Muskogee High School, performs during the 13th annual Voice Recital on May 5 at the Sequoyah High School Chapel in Tahlequah. Jacobs was one of seven Cherokee students to receive a superior rating at the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association state competition. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Aislyn Hensley announces her recent achievements for singing at the 13th annual Voice Recital on May 5 at the Sequoyah High School chapel in Tahlequah. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Under the direction of Cherokee Nation citizen and voice coach Barbara McAlister, seven Cherokee students received superior ratings at the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s solo and ensemble competition in April.
“Seven out of seven who went to district and state all received superior (ratings), the very top. I’m very proud of them. It’s a lot of hard work,” McAlister said.
The seven students are Megan Jacobs, Aislyn Hensley, Phillip Bruch, Cade White, Hayley Hitt, Gracie Dunn and Madelyn Rogers.
Through the CN, McAlister works with Cherokee students as part of a scholarship program and for those pursuing Broadway belt or classical style vocals.
McAlister gained fame as a mezz0-soprano opera singer and has studied and performed in countries such as Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Hong Kong throughout a decades-long career.
After moving back to Oklahoma several years ago, she said she wanted to pass on her music knowledge to up-and-coming performers. “It’s what I wanted to do when I moved from New York City back to my home state. I wanted to be able to reach out to rural areas where a lot of people can’t afford to pay for lessons.”
McAlister received in April the Governor’s Art Award for her work with the CN and helping to pioneer the scholarship program.
She said most of her students start from the beginning with singing lessons. “I hear what the voice is more designed to do, like Broadway belt or classical. You hear it after a while. The teacher hears it and starts pointing in that particular voice and type.”
She said, for example, Muskogee High School senior Megan Jacobs’ voice is designed for more classical style of singing. Jacobs has studied with McAlister four years.
“The one word I can describe about Barbara is she is just very dedicated, and she is very hopeful about her students. No matter where you are, she will take where you are and build you up from there. If you’re really good she’ll make you even better. If you’re a beginner, she will build you up to be the best singer and performer you can be,” Jacobs said.
Aislyn Hensley, a Hilldale High School junior, recently won first place in an individual performance presentation at the state capitol for National History Day and will go to Washington, D.C., to a national competition. She said it was her third year in a row to receive a superior rating at state.
Hensley has been working with McAlister for five years.
“It’s been a wonderful five years, and I would not have half the opportunities or achievements I have right now if it was not for her and her tutelage and her guidance along this path I’ve decided upon,” Hensley said.
McAlister said most of her students win scholarships to study music or are accepted into music programs. “I’m very, very blessed to have, I think, the smartest students around. They’re all winning scholarships, they’re winning competitions.”