Senior to sing in finals for Spotlight Awards

By Megan Ward

Max Sheldon ’11 is one of two finalists in the non-classical voice category of the Los Angeles Music Center’s Spotlight Awards. He will perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on April 30.

Sheldon sang “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles and “Monticello” from the musical Edges in the competition.

The Spotlight Awards comprises students from all over Southern California competing in categories in the visual and performing arts.

The winner in each division receives a $5,000 scholarship toward his college education.

This is the third year Sheldon has participated in the Awards and the second year in a row that he has advanced to the top 15.

Sheldon heard about Spotlight at his dance studio from dancers in upper levels dance participants.

“In 10th grade I actually auditioned for dance with a hip-hop solo,” Sheldon said. “At my dance audition, Jeri Gaile, the head of the Spotlight Awards, noticed that I said I do musical theater and sing. She told me that I had to audition for non-classical voice.”

This year, the non-classical voice competition had over 450 applicants.

Competitors must sing two contrasting songs in the pop, jazz, country, gospel, musical theater or foreign language style.

The field then narrowed down after the preliminary audition to 60 competitors. Further auditions narrow the field to 15 performers.

“My second audition felt amazing to me,” Sheldon said. “I felt like I really got into my two characters, really applied the notes and got to actually enjoy the audition.”

For Sheldon, performing has been a part of his life since the age of five. At the age of 11, Sheldon started formal training with a voice teacher and began classical voice training at the age of 15.

“After you perform a lot you get used to how trying to perform and trying to sing well feels,” Sheldon said, “but when all that goes out the window and you just open your mouth and let the character and the music flow out of you it is one of the most insanely incredible feelings on earth, but also one of the scariest.”

After high school, Sheldon wants to continue to study music in college and pursue music as a career.

“I want to start with musical theatre and simultaneously work on my recording career,” Sheldon said. “I’d also love to do film. To be honest, I want to do it all.”

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