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Four local college students recently earned a special honor for their outstanding musical talents.
Mineral Area College students Taylor Marler, Melody Francis, Levi Wiegand and Griffin Phillips were nominated for the prestigious honor of performing at the 86th annual Missouri Music Educators Association Conference held at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach. The singers trained with well-known conductor Dr. J.D. Burnette from the University of Texas.
The students were honored to be part of the All-Collegiate Choir. This is the first time that students have been part of this special group since Dr. Sherry Francis became an instructor at MAC.
The four students earned this honor based on a variety of defining criteria for eligibility, such as musicianship and singing experience, but also academic status, character and leadership.
Francis said college choir directors made nominations with a scoring guide with various criteria. The All-Collegiate coordinators then made selections and even followed up with additional questions so they were able to select only the best singers.
In addition to taking part in the All-Collegiate Choir, the four students are currently enrolled in Francis’s classes at MAC. They are also part of the MAC Singers, and two of them are in the Chambers Singers.
Park Hills resident Taylor Marler is the daughter of Jeremy and Kathy Marler. She is a soprano and a music major. She has previous experience in high school as a singer in the choir and performed at music contests with solos and ensembles. Her skills also include dancing, show choir and playing ukulele. She is currently taking several music classes at MAC and plans to become a choir director after college. She also hopes to continue performing, whether it’s in a community or professional choir.
She said her love for music is something she inherited from her family.
“Most all of us are in some way musically inclined, be it vocal or instrumental,” said Marler. “You’ll never go to a family event where we don’t end up gathered together singing.”
She enjoyed attending the MMEA conference because she was able to see many choir friends she’d made over the years.
“It was so exciting to see those familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in such a long time,” she said, “and be able to perform with them in such a talented group.”
Francis said Taylor is “a wonderful student with a beautiful voice and a sweet demeanor who always works hard.”
Melody Francis, an alto from Farmington, is the daughter of John and Sherry Francis. She’s been involved in music her entire life. She’s sung in choirs at church and school, and she’s part of a musical family that has nurtured her love for music.
After college graduation, Melody plans to become a pediatrician. This has been her life goal since she was younger.
“Even though I am not a music major,” she explained, “I will always keep music close to my heart and be a part of a choir if I can.”
For Melody, singing with the other All-Collegiate Choir students was an honor because they share the same passion for music.
“It was a lot of hours of singing, but I really enjoyed my time there singing in the choir because our voices blended together perfectly,” she said.
Melody said performing at this huge conference for Missouri music educators was a true honor and something she will never forget.
Francis said Melody is “a hardworking student with a talent in music.” She has completed numerous college music classes, performed in many ensembles, and plays a variety of instruments. In high school, she participated in choir and had solos and small ensembles at the state level with the highest ratings. In addition, she was selected in the All-State Show Choir two times during high school.
Griffin Phillips, the son of Mark and Deanna Phillips of Farmington, has been involved with music since he was in third grade.
“Singing is something I love to do and something I hope to continue for a very long time,” he said.
Phillips plans to continue singing after he graduates from MAC, whether it’s at church or in other places. Although he is not majoring in music, it’s been part of his life for many years, and he plans to continue his passion for singing.
For Phillips, he felt honored to be recognized with many other accomplished All-Collegiate Choir members.
“This experience was very fun,” he said, “and I really enjoyed everything about it.”
Francis said Phillips is new to MAC Singers this year but has joined with “a great enthusiasm and gifting in music.”
“Griffin has led choirs at his church and also led worship teams from the time he was very young,” she said. “Music and singing come very naturally to Griffin.”
In addition to his singing abilities, Phillips is a soccer coach and enjoys working with the youth at his church.
Levi Wiegand, a tenor, was the fourth MAC student who was selected to take part in the All-Collegiate Choir.
Francis said Wiegand is a great student who has added a lot to their choir, not only with his wonderful singing voice but also as the tenor section leader.
“Levi is very talented and plays guitar with serious skills,” she said.
He joined the MAC Singers last year and has performed as a choir member and soloist at a variety of incredible venues, such as the annual dessert theater event and opening for the Six Show in Branson.
“When Levi is not playing music, you may find him running,” said Francis. “He is a very dedicated MAC track team member and is quite the athlete with many awards.”
Overall, Francois said the four MAC students’ All-Collegiate Choir performance was an honor for both the students and the college.
“It is an honor for these four students and the college for them to represent MAC from talented college singers across our state.”
Francis said the four students will sing a song together at an upcoming event like the dessert theater or for the MAC Singers’ performance tour in Nashville later this spring.
Pam Clifton is a contributing writer for the Daily Journal.