UL Lafayette junior trying to win spot to perform with American Pops Orchestra

Lafayette Parish
Madison Russell

Madison Russell

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A UL Lafayette junior majoring in vocal performance may get the chance to sing with the American Pops Orchestra — if she can make it past a panel of Broadway singers, recording artists and contest viewers.

Madison Russell is one of 30 college singers across the nation chose to compete for the honor in “NextGen: The Voices of Tomorrow,” a live event that will be streamed at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21.

Russell is a junior from Zachary, La., who earned a spot in the semifinal round of the competition by recording a video that she sent to the American Pops Orchestra last month. The livestream event will pit her against vocalists from some of the nation’s top music programs, including the Berklee College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and New England Conservatory of Music.

Ten finalists will be chosen as part of the competition. The finalists are tentatively scheduled to perform with the American Pops Orchestra sometime this spring, depending on COVID-19 considerations. An overall winner, a male runner-up, and a female runner-up will earn scholarships and a paid performance with the orchestra.

“My mom always jokes that I could sing before I could talk,” said Russell. “She would hear me babbling musically.”

As she grew up, Russell sang in school choirs, performed in musical theater shows, and attended music conferences. She didn’t start thinking about making singing a career, however, until she was in high school.

“I never really knew music was the path I was going to take until I got older. I kept auditioning for things and getting more and more opportunities. That made me realize music might be something I could actually pursue,” Russell said.

The affiliations have provided opportunities to work with – and learn from – guest musicians who have visited the University’s School of Music and Performing Arts. Russell has also performed with conductors from other countries when the UL Lafayette Chamber Singers perform with the Acadia Symphony Orchestra.

“I want to stick with performance while my voice is still young and healthy. Once I graduate, I’m going to move to New York to start gigging,” she said.

Learn more about the American Pops Orchestra’s “NextGen: The Voices of Tomorrow” competition and how to register to watch.

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