Sunday, November 9, 2014

Raymond teen sings her way to Nationals - By Michelle Libby

Suzanna Butterfield recently spent a week in Nashville, Tenn. at the 2014 All National Honor Ensemble sponsored by the National Association for Music Education concert, where she sang at the Grand Ole Opry with 350 of the country’s best vocalists. 
Suzanna, a sophomore at North Yarmouth Academy (NYA), takes as many music classes as she can. “I spend all day at the music building,” she said. She participates in varsity singers an a capella group, Treble, an all-girls group, mixed chorus and wind ensemble (band). After school she practices to get ready for upcoming shows. 

For Nationals she had to memorize all six of her songs including a 25-page song. Each song had special notes from the director that she had to incorporate into the song she was learning with her voice coach.
“It was grueling what they put her through,” said Kathleen Butterfield, Suzanna’s mom. 

Suzanna moved to Maine seven years ago with her mother to be closer to family, and for the education system that was lacking on Anguilla, a small island near St. Martin in the Caribbean. 

Here Suzanna has taken advantage of every opportunity playing softball on a travel team, basketball and volleyball. She took dance until this past year, when she had to give up something. In sixth grade at Jordan-Small Middle School Suzanna was in the school play. She takes voice lessons from Raymond voice coach Charlotte Neuberger, for which she pays for with her own money in Raymond. Neuberger was actually a guest at the Butterfield’s inn on Anguilla before they moved to Maine.  
Suzanna also plays the clarinet and qualified for districts all through middle school. 

“She’s always been singing since she came out of the womb,” said Kathleen. 

Getting to Nationals wasn’t an easy task. Suzanna tried out for the district chorus first. After making that she tried out for All State, which was “a big deal,” according to Kathleen. Suzanna had to prepare one vocal piece and sight read music during her tryout. She spent three days at the University of Maine at Orono before the performance. 

The choral director at NYA, Nora Kranis, said that since she had made all state, she was able to try out for Nationals. Suzanna used the same audition piece she used for states. 

When the word was out about who had made Nationals, Suzanna heard nothing. Her friend said congratulations on Nationals, but Suzanna thought she was talking about softball. 
“For a day and a half, we weren’t sure. All my friends were so supportive,” she said. 

“She was one of the youngest there. It was mostly seniors and juniors,” said Kathleen. There were six other singers from Maine in Nashville. “There were 50 second sopranos. The logistics of doing what they did was mindboggling,” Kathleen, who traveled with Suzanna, said. 

They two went down to Nashville a day and a half early, so they would have time to sight see. 

“We were practicing 10 hours a day,” said Suzanna. “I learned so much, all really technical things, breathing, support and how to sing the values. I learned about the way they carried themselves,” she said of the older singers. 

Her favorite part of the trip was singing with people who were amazing singers, she said. “I love to be able to sing with people who are better than me.”

As far as her musical future, she’s not sure which path she’d like to take. 

“I also learned that I really, really love to sing. I definitely want music to be in my life.” Since she’s only 15, she hasn’t had to make definite career plans. 

Suzanna was impressed with the dedication that the singers had to their craft. She said she doesn’t always encounter that in some of her groups. “There was no judging.” 

When Suzanna arrived at the Grand Ole Opry, she entered the theater through the artist’s entrance. “I thought of all the people who have sung here and thought, I’m going to be a part of this,” she said.  

When asked if she’d try out again, “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was an amazing experience.”
When at home in Raymond, Suzanna enjoys ice skating, skiing and snow tubing. She also visits her “Mema and Grampa” every weekend, who are very supportive of her music. 

Suzanna brought back from Nashville a desire to go to Nationals again next year and a pair of brown fringed cowgirl boots.

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