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American Traditions Vocal Competition Soiree highlights Savannah singers

  • Mikki Sodergren won the American Traditions Competition Gold Medal in 2014 and is now the ATC artistic director. (John Carrington Photography)

American Traditions Vocal Competition Soiree highlights Savannah singers

26 Sep 2017

The American Traditions Vocal Competition is celebrating its 25th year by honoring former contestants with a night of performances Sept. 28 at First Presbyterian Church.

The evening will feature locally acclaimed and talented performers celebrating the preservation of American music, from opera to Johnny Mercer and gospel to musical theater.

Vocalist Heidi Bindhammer, who competed in 2005, said the ATC was one of the most unique experiences she’s had on stage.

“It really encouraged me to look into different types of American music, to explore styles,” she said. “There is so much amazing talent to share the stage with. You grow as a vocalist and performer.”

Bindhammer will be joined at the September Soiree by additional past participants, including: Danny Cohen, Leah Coleman, Cyril Durant, Jillian Durant, Rebecca Flaherty, Jacquelyn Hamilton, Christopher Jordan, Roger Moss, Kim Michael Polote, Diane Ricks, Brenda Rucker, Russell Watkins, Mikki Sodergren and Claire Watts.

Many of these artists are teaching music throughout the area, including with Savannah Children’s Choir, Savannah State University, the Voice Co-op, Savannah College of Art and Design, Benedictine Military School, Savannah Arts Academy, and others. Sodergren and Cohen represent the ATC board as artistic director and president, respectively.

“Today, the ATC is not only Savannah’s premiere professional vocal competition, but it stands alone as a unique vocal competition for stunningly talented and diverse singing performers,” Sodergren said, adding that Savannah “is truly the ATC’s perfect home, thanks to its rich history and vibrant cultural life, as well as the community’s appreciation for the arts.”

The first ATC took place in 1994, when gospel singer Ernestine Dillard took home the Gold Medal after a 33-year career as a nurse. In 2011, the organization became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with a focus on educational outreach, says ATC president Cohen.

The competition will take place Feb. 19-23, and applications to participate are open through Oct. 20.

The 25th season is a major milestone for all those involved over the years.

“It is amazing to see the snowball impact of success,” Cohen said. “… We are not only changing the lives of young vocal artists, we are also showcasing incredible talent in our own backyard.”


What: American Traditions Vocal Competition September Soiree

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 28; dessert reception to follow

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington Ave.

Cost: $40; $35 for adults accompanying children younger than 17; free for children; $15 for students with ID