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Southern Seminary music student wins vocal awards
June 05, 2006
By Garrett E. Wishall

A student in the School of Church Music and Worship at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently added to her list of music accolades. Maggie Garrett won the professional division of a state vocal competition March 24, earning the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award for Kentucky.

Garrett, a doctoral candidate working on her doctor of musical arts degree in voice performance at Southern, advanced to the regional competition March 31 where she was runner-up.

The award was not the first for Garrett, as she took home a couple of honors at the NATS Student Auditions in October 2005. Garrett, a lyric coloratura soprano, earned first place in the advanced division and captured the Gina Skaggs Epifano Award, given for the most outstanding performance of the competition. May 5, the School of Church Music and Worship named Garrett the Jay W. Wilkey Vocal Artist of the Year, and she was also recently granted a NATS Young Leaders Award for 2006.

Garrett said her passion for singing first developed in the church.

"I grew up in Southern Baptist churches, and was involved in children's choirs and church choirs," she said. "That is where my passion for ministering through song began. Initially, I really wanted to sing contemporary Christian music, but I found out that my voice was better suited for operatic singing and so I headed in that direction."

That transition took place during Garrett's college years. While she had sung opera through high school, attending the Baltimore School for the Arts and performing in high school operas, Garrett did not enjoy that performance style. Garrett was working on her undergraduate degree at Belmont University in Tennessee, when, in her junior year, she attended Hochschule sür Musik Carl Maria von Weber, a music conservatory in Dresden, Germany, as an exchange student. There, Garrett said regularly attending performances at a national opera house gave her a love for opera.

"I never went to operas in America, but Dresden has one of the largest opera houses in Germany," she said. "They have some of the best opera singers in Europe, many of which are from America, and I went to see as much as I could while I was a student in Germany."

When Garrett returned to the United States, she transferred to the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, N.C., to focus on opera. After graduating with a degree in voice performance, Garrett earned her master's degree in the same field at Indiana University before coming to Southern in 2003.

In addition to working on her doctorate, Garrett teaches voice in several capacities. She teaches voice lessons and voice classes at Southern, voice lessons at Boyce College and voice lessons for the Seminary Academy of Music. Garrett said she enjoys teaching and helping people sing well.

"When a student improves, and to see them feel good about their singing, it is very satisfying," she said. "Most of my students are going into the ministry so they will be using their gifts in ministry [which is exciting]. I really like the dynamic that goes on in the student-teacher relationship."

Upon graduating, Garrett plans on teaching voice classes and private voice lessons at the university level, which she views as a ministry.

"I want to help students sing their best for God," she said. "I look at it as a ministry and I would like to be encouraging to my students. I really enjoy the college age. They are a lot of fun. I could see going to a secular school and being salt in that environment, or I could teach at a Christian school."

Garrett and her husband, Mark, are members of Highview Baptist, East Campus. She has also sung professionally at Second Presbyterian and Calvin Presbyterian Churches and currently sings with the Kentucky Opera Chorus.

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