The 26th annual American Traditions Vocal Competition will feature an all-star panel of judges for 2019, and the application process is still open for singers around the country to take part in the annual contest that offers $35,000 in cash prizes.

Broadway performer and ATC medalist Philip Boykin, Savannah Voice Festival composer-in-residence Michael Ching and jazz singer Melba Joyce will adjudicate the popular February event.


The ATC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, produces the annual competition in Savannah as a vehicle to celebrate and preserve all styles of classic American music, according to the organization’s website. In addition to big cash prizes, the organization also has several musical education programs that reach into the local community.

“The American Traditions Vocal Competition is thrilled to announce this powerhouse judging panel for our 26th annual competition,” ATC Artistic Director Mikki Sodergren said. “With their various musical backgrounds, exciting career highlights, and especially Mr. Boykin’s previous relationship as a competitor and medalist in the 2003 American Traditions Vocal Competition, we are thrilled to invite these phenomenal musicians to Savannah.”

Boykin stars as Tonton Julian in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “Once on this Island.” The bass-baritone was an ATC medalist in 2003. He debuted on Broadway in 2012 in the Tony Award-winning revival of “Porgy and Bess.” He has been nominated for a Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critic’s Circle Award. He received the 2012 Theater World Award for “Outstanding Broadway Debut.”

Ching was named the Savannah Voice Festival composer-in-residence this past year after working with the festival for a number of years. He is well known in Savannah after the premiere of two original operas featuring local stories, “Alice Ryley” and “Anna Hunter.” His 2013 opera, “Speed Dating Tonight!” is one of the most produced modern operas in the world. The 62nd production of “Speed Dating Tonight!” took place at this year's Savannah Voice Festival.


Born in Dallas, Joyce has been singing jazz for a number of years. She recorded with Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band, and has opened shows for Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. She appeared on Broadway in a production of “Black and Blue.” Joyce produced the first Women in Jazz Festival at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Black Culture.

Contestants will be announced in November. Applications are open until Oct. 8 at The annual vocal competition will take place from Feb. 18-22. Tickets to see the performances are available through Savannah Box Office and the ATC website.