Newcastle singer joins elite company
June 4, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Unlike most teenagers, Liberty High School senior Jaylyn Andrus loves a good opera, and for her, the bloodier the production, the better.
“I love the drama in operas,” she said. “There are some funny ones, but my favorites are the ones where everyone dies.”
One day, Jaylyn envisions herself performing in the very productions she has grown to admire, and she is well on her way, gaining acceptance into one of the top college music programs and earning national recognition for her vocal talents.
Jaylyn recently joined the ranks of distinguished alumni such as Vanessa Williams, Viola Davis and Nicki Minaj, when she was honored as a 2013 Young Arts Award winner. The award recognizes outstanding young men and women in the visual, literary and performing arts.
More than 10,000 students applied for the YoungArts Awards, but only 685 were recognized.
“It’s a really great way to be recognized,” she said. “It’s a validation that you’re on the right track.”
In the fall, Jaylyn will continue to hone her talents at her dream school, the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. She had to go through a rigorous live audition process and fly to Ohio, but when she got there, it was love at first sight, she said.
“It has a great reputation. One of my favorite singers, Kathleen Battle, went there,” she said. “It’s a really selective program and, in the music world, it probably has the biggest name, and the school is beautiful.”
Out of all the schools that Jaylyn auditioned at, the College Conservatory of Music, stood out to her mother Deidre, because of the nurturing staff and atmosphere.
“I was very happy. We went on a lot of auditions. It was one of the early ones, and I just remember being in love with the place,” she said.
That school felt like home for Jaylyn, but she didn’t want to get her hopes too high.
“We didn’t want to like it too much, because what if I didn’t get in?” she said.
When the acceptance came, though, it was certainly cause for celebration, and simply more validation that Jaylyn had what it took to be considered among the top classical singers. She was one of just 10 students from the nation accepted into the school’s competitive vocal program.
“I was emotional,” Deidre said. “I was excited for her because this is her dream.”
The longtime Newcastle resident has been singing nearly her entire life, beginning with choir at Newcastle Elementary School. She did musical theater at Maywood Middle School, before attending Holy Names Academy for two years where she was involved with the choir program.
She has spent her last two years at Liberty High School, where she is active in the music department, and recently participated in the school’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” as Glinda the Good Witch.
“It was my first production at Liberty and I was so happy to be a part of it,” Jaylyn said. “Liberty drama is a great, fantastic group of people.”
Her foray into classical music occurred relatively recently when she began taking classical voice lessons and competing in contests her freshman year.
“This music was written hundreds of years ago,” she said. “Every time you sing a classical song, you can interpret it in kind of a different way. You can really make it your own, but still have the job of staying true to what the composer wanted or thought.”
Jaylyn will head to Cincinnati in August to begin the next phase of her life, but she admitted that it still really had not sunk in yet.
“People ask, ‘Why are you going into the arts? It’s such a difficult field.’ But, you really have to have the passion for it,” she said. “This is what I love to do. It’s really kind of what I live for.”
Her last act as a Liberty Patriot will be to sing the national anthem at the school’s June 13 graduation, something she said she is honored to do.