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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Arts for Youth Spotlight: Betsy Nicolson

Betsy Nicholson
Betsy Nicholson

Betsy Nicolson raises her voice in song and praise

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | July 31, 2013

Very few young singers get the chance to sing with Broadway stars, but Betsy Nicholson got the opportunity to sing with four in April during Mountain States Foundation's "(one) Singular Sensational Evening (again)" fundraiser. The performance was also where Betsy discovered that she had won the regional Niswonger Children's Hospital Youth Talent Search.

"The talent search was a once in a lifetime experience," she says. "Performing on stage with Broadway stars, including one who had played the "Phantom of the Opera,' was a remarkable experience. We put together a spectacular performance with just a few practices, and I made a lot of new friends. I was so excited and shocked by the win, and I hope that I can use my talent to bless more people."

The talent search is not Betsy's only win in competition. In May she tied for first in the Bristol Music Club competition; last fall she placed first in the Music Teachers National Association state competition in Nashville and went on to an honorable mention for the southern region of the U.S.

Betsy started studying voice when she broke her collarbone five years ago and, as a result, couldn't continue her piano lessons.

"Once I started voice, I never looked back," she says. "I love singing and am very blessed that God helped me get on the right track. I am learning to play the piano, again. It would be nice to be able to sing and play at the same time."

She raises her voice in song at church, music camps, recitals and plays and recently joined the Highlands Youth Ensemble.

"It's been fun traveling to several competitions and music camps at Lee, Bob Jones and Lipscomb universities, where I've met other students and professors who also love music. Last July I went to Nashville for a two-week music camp called Fine Arts Summer Academy put on by the Annie Moses Band. It was an amazing experience, and I'm excited to go back again this summer not just to see old friends, but because our final performance will be on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry House this year."

In addition to the influence of the Annie Moses Band, she says Ivy Blair, her voice teacher, is a great influence. "She has taught me a lot, not just how to control and preserve my voice, but that it's not about winning; it's about the experience and learning what you can from each opportunity you have to perform."

Betsy says music "is a form of worship to God. He must love music because it's all around us in many different forms." She loves many types of music, but her favorite is contemporary Christian, especially the singer Chris Tomlin. She also enjoys musical theater, jazz, classical, Celtic, Christmas and movie soundtracks.

"It's hard to pin my style down," Betsy says. "I sing differently for classical than I do for the modern worship songs I sing at church and differently still for musical theater. The thing that ties them all together though is the classical music training. Classical training doesn't mean that you always sound like an opera singer or that you can sing very high notes. Classical training helps you control and preserve your voice, so you can sing any form or style of music safely and without fear of harming your voice."

In the future, Betsy plans to combine her love of singing and her faith. "Since I was 15 I've felt called to go on the mission field. I have a dream of working with orphaned children and preparing them spiritually, educationally and economically to function in the world. I want them to know what it is like to have a family, to be loved and know that they have a God who loves them. I also want to use my talent on the mission field and sing for praise and worship."

When she isn't singing or working on her home-school lessons, she likes crafting, reading, baking, knitting, crocheting, drawing, writing, acting and church activities. She and her best friend are in the process of opening an online craft store on Etsy.

Betsy is 17 and the adopted daughter of Mike and DeEtta Nicholson of Elizabethton, Tenn. She is homeschooled and is a rising 12th grader.