Arts4All Florida is proud to announce our annual statewide program featuring the talent of Florida’s young musicians. Prior to the application process for the VSA International Young Soloist Program each year Arts4All Florida facilitates an adjudicated statewide program to recognize the talent of our young musicians. Finalists selected by a panel of judges are given a chance to perform at a professional venue to be determined each year. These finalists, as well as all other applicants, will represent Florida by having their musical entries sent to Washington, DC to compete in the VSA International Young Soloist Program.
Below are the 2017-2018 Florida Young Soloist winners!
Stephanie Slagle was playing songs and singing by the time she was 5 years old and so her passion and career began. Through early professional instruction and guidance, Stephanie blossomed into a trained musical theatre performer with shows such as Annie, Beauty and the Beast and Carousel under her belt. By the age of 13 the requests began coming in for her to sing the National Anthem at conferences in the United States, Canada and Mexico…not to mention the Tampa Bay Rays game! Stephanie graduated from Springstead High School in June with high honors and is currently taking classes at Pasco-Hernando State College. She is in the process of applying to schools with musical theater or vocal performance programs. Most recently, Stephanie participated in the Spanish Lyric Theater/New Tampa Players production of “Chess: The Musical”. Future goals include professional musical theater and expanding her operatic abilities.
She writes, as a VSA Florida Young Soloist with autism, “I would share how music has been an exit from being in my own world. Thanks to music, I have learned to focus. The arts assist us to go beyond whatever we thought we could do”.
Matthew Cravener began playing the piano when he was four years old and performed his first concert at six. Now 23, with the repertoire and skill level achieved by few, one might call him a musical prodigy. He writes, “Music is my passion. It is the most important part of my life”.
Much of Matthew’s formal music education came from Ruth Mason of Mason’s School of Music in Tallahassee. She says, “Matthew has an extraordinary talent when it comes to the piano. He outgrew his teachers quickly and has been a delight to work with.” Not only can he play many classical pieces naturally by ear, but he enjoys classic rock and popular tunes as well. Recently, he was the featured performer of "Artists and Autism: An Evening of Music and Synergy" at the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, where he was accompanied by Grammy award winning guitarist, Larry Mitchell.
In addition to performing, Matthew enjoys composing and producing original music. He has scored loads of tunes including 13 films for Red Eye Productions, commercial jingles, and albums such as Keys to the Cross and Matthew's Christmas for A.J.; proceeds of which were donated to charity. His film, Dammit Sugar, won the 2015 award for audience favorite at the Tallahassee Shorts Film Festival.
Matthew shares with VSA Florida, “Music is one of the forces that gets me through the day as I face the challenges that include Tourette's syndrome and autism. My goal is to become a nationally recognized film composer. Please visit my website and hear more of my music at www.scoresbymatthew.com.”