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AU News

AU Musical Theatre student Craig Smith wins second place in national competition

August 31, 2015

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Craig Smith, an AU musical theatre major and Anderson, South Carolina, native, won second place in his category at the 2015 National Student Auditions hosted by the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Smith is the first student from AU to advance to the national round of the NATS competition.

“I’m very honored to represent not only Anderson University and (The South Carolina) School of the Arts but also my city, my state, and even my region,” Smith said.

Advanced to the final round

The national competition, held in July on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, featured two rounds of competition. Smith first competed with 14 other students in his category in a semifinal round. He and two others advanced to the final round, where Smith won second place.

Smith said that his personal goal during semifinals was to advance to finals, and his goal during finals was to at least place second. He achieved both goals and went home with a cash prize of $600.

“I was just very impressed by his ability to maintain focus and to maintain the professional presentation of everything,” said AU Associate Professor of Music Dr. Tommy L. Watson Jr, Smith’s voice teacher, who went with him to the NATS competition.

The South Carolina School of the Arts prepared Smith

Smith credited Dr. Watson with teaching him essential vocal techniques, which have helped him achieve his current success. Smith said he also received audition training through the theatre department at AU’s South Carolina School of the Arts.

 “Everything that he was taught along the way, I think, showed up in the performance,” Dr. Watson said.

Dr. Watson described the NATS competition as a “tremendous journey.” Earlier in the year, Smith competed at the state and regional levels, placing first and second, respectively. He then passed a YouTube audition, which qualified him to compete nationally.

To advance so far, Dr. Watson said, performers need more than mere talent: it takes reliability, responsibility, dependability, and focus: qualities that Smith possesses.

“There is no mystery as to how one establishes excellence,” Dr. Watson said. “It takes a lot of discipline.”

Keeping his cool

Smith also has another strength: not letting himself stress too much. Smith said that before each performance, he tries to quiet his mind and eliminate distractions, and after a performance, he tries to relax.

“That’s my motto: go in, do your personal best, and whatever happens, happens,” Smith said.

Dr. Watson called Smith “the student that every teacher wishes they had.” He said he looks forward to voice lessons with Smith.

“I am richer, I am better, I am more inspired because I have the opportunity to work with him,” Dr. Watson said.

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