Five Ouachita students named NATS finalists; Watson earns Governor’s Award


ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Five Ouachita Baptist University students were recently named finalists in the annual Southern Region National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) auditions held at Southeastern Louisiana University. Senior Jacob Watson also received the prestigious Governor’s Award.

Each year, the current region and state governors as well as former region governors have the option of recognizing a student in the competition who they feel has the best opportunity for a professional career as a singer.

“The Governor’s Award is something that is very special and quite a blessing to have received,” Watson said. “Throughout the finals, certain judges take notes and decide on this award. It’s an award that they only give out when they truly feel someone has deserved it.

“I think the last time I have seen it given out was either my freshman or sophomore year, so it was extremely exciting thing to receive,” he added. Watson, a senior musical theatre major from Wynne, Ark., also earned first place in the senior men and upper music theatre divisions.

More than 500 singers competed from state and private schools across Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“It is always an incredible feeling to be rewarded for your art and for your offering to be appreciated by peers and instructors,” Watson said.

The following students were NATS finalists, in order of hometown:

Arkadelphia, Ark.—Caitlin Secrest, a freshman vocal performance student of Glenda and Jon Secrest, earned second place in the freshman women division and was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Sherwood, Ark.—Victoria Mantooth, a freshman vocal performance student of Glenda Secrest, earned third place in the freshman women division.

Springdale, Ark.—Rachel Harris, a junior musical theatre student of Maggie Garrett, earned third place in the junior women division and was a semi-finalist in the upper music theatre division.

Sungai Petani, Malaysia—John Tneoh, a sophomore vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, earned second place in the sophomore men division and was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Wynne, Ark.—Jacob Watson, a senior musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, earned first place in the senior men and upper music theatre divisions and received the Governor’s Award.

The following students were NATS semi-finalists, in order of hometown:

DeSoto, Texas—Gemma Guiomard, a freshman musical theatre and studio art student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women and lower music theatre divisions.

Garland, Texas—Carolyn Baker, a freshman musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division. Lauren Casteel, a senior musical theatre student of Maggie Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the upper music theatre division. Meredith Martin, a freshman choral music education student of Maggie Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division.

Glen Carbon, Ill.—Joel Rogier, a freshman vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman men and lower music theatre divisions.

Grapevine, Texas—Shay Michael, a junior musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Hamburg, Ark.—Carli Sasser, a freshman choral music education student of Maggie Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division.

Hot Springs, Ark.—Houston Murray, a freshman choral music education student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman men division.

Little Rock, Ark.—Gabriela Baltzley, a freshman musical theatre student of Maggie Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Overland Park, Kan.—James Wood, a sophomore church music student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore men division.

Saginaw, Mich.—Hannah Garner, a sophomore vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore women and lower music theatre divisions.

Sanger, Texas—Alyssa Reynolds, a sophomore vocal performance student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore women and lower music theatre divisions.

Tyler, Texas—Grace Johnson, a senior vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the upper music theatre division.

Whitehouse, Texas—Justin Ratliff, a freshman musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman men division.

The students were accompanied by Susan Monroe and Phyllis Walker. For more information, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

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