Junior American Traditions Vocal Competition is hosting their inaugural competition at the Savannah Arts Academy. Eight local high school singers will compete for cash prizes, recording, and performance opportunities, while showing their love for music and sharing their singing with the audience.

Mikki Sodergren is the Artistic Director of the American Traditions Vocal Competition (ATC) and works with the contestants, organizes concerts, and organizes the annual American Traditions Vocal Competition with the help of her board of directors, as well as plan outreach events. She said the focus of the ATC competition is to celebrate and preserve American music “by bringing in lauded, incredible singers from all across the country and world to compete for cash prizes, all while exploring gems of the American music repertoire.”


The Junior ATC is a culmination of the last year of hard work and education initiatives.

“Our goal with education was to create a lasting impact on students in the Savannah area. We began by visiting schools around the area, singing for them, and having them sing for us, and started to teach them about the different genres of American music to acclimate their ears to hearing and noticing genre,” she said.

They held an open call for local high school students on October 5, 2019, asking the students to sing three different songs. They selected eight candidates from the open call, who received a one-hour coaching session from ATC professional singers.

“Finally, on Saturday night, they will perform their selections for a live audience, judges from the local music community, and compete for $1,500 of prize money, recording opportunities and performance engagements” said Sodergren.

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The competition is not the only educational outreach the ATC performs, according to Sodergren. They make an effort to be in as many schools as they can, and work with students helping them learn professional singing skills. She encourages students who want to get involved to stay tuned for the Junior ATC scheduled for the fall of 2020. In the meantime, she encourages students to get involved with their local community. “If students love to sing in general, there are so many ways to be involved,” she said, “join the choir at your school, join a community chorus, church chorus, volunteer to sing at retirement communities.”

Sodergren enjoys working with all of the Junior ATC students.

“I think I can speak for all of our vocal coaches, our wonderful pianist, Kellee Haselton, and our board. When I say that it has been a blessing to work with these talented high school students to prepare them for the Junior ATC finals. They are all exceptionally gifted, kind, and intelligent; they have their own unique gifts, but a great general understanding of music and style. It’s going to be really exciting to watch them sing their tunes at the finals and see who the judges select.”

Kim Michael Polote, 2001 ATC Gold Medalist, will be emceeing the Junior ATC, and Kellee Haselton, board member of the ATC, is the pianist for the competition. The three judges of the competition include Savannah Music Festival Executive Director David Pratt, ATC Finalist and co-founder of the Savannah Children’s Choir Roger Moss, and Director of Opera at Georgia Southern University, Dr. Briana Sosenheimer.