Student musicians take top prizes in JMArts’s fifth-annual ‘Sing and Play’


SILER CITY — Three local students took top prizes last Thursday in “Sing and Play ’23,” the 5th annual student music competition at Jordan-Matthews High School. From auditions through the showcase concert, the event is designed as an educational experience for young musicians and a benefit concert for JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation.

Audience members voted Emma Ortiz of Pittsboro Elementary as best performance in the elementary division for her vocal rendition of “Never Enough,” a Benj Pasek and Justin Paul song from the film “The Greatest Showman.”

Hailey King of George Moses Horton Middle School finished on top of the middle school competition with her vocal performance of “Fingers Crossed,” a song recorded and co-written by Lauren Spencer-Smith.

And in the high school competition, Clara Rojas of Jordan-Matthews High School took the prize for singing Carly Simon’s classic “You’re So Vain.”

Though this year’s winners were all vocalists, “Sing and Play” also featured instrumental performances on electric guitar, violin and piano. The winner in each of the three divisions received a $50 prize.

Rose Pate, president of JMArts, said the whole event was a real team effort.

“This is a collaboration of the Jordan-Matthews students, parents and staff,” she said. “I’m so proud how everyone worked together to produce this great night of family entertainment.”

All money raised by the competition is used by JMArts to expand opportunity for high school artists, including those participating in the annual New York Arts Adventure. That trip scheduled over spring break gives upper class musicians, actors and visual artists an opportunity to explore one of the world’s great cities, experience the very best in the arts, and gain new perspectives and experiences that will influence their lives and work.

Students this year will have the opportunity to learn from Broadway actor and Tony Award-nominee Andy Grotelueschen, Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks and a notable graffiti writer working in the city. Other opportunities to interact with world-class artists are still being arranged.

Musicians from Chatham County and across the state were eligible for “Sing and Play.” Contestants in the showcase concert were selected by judges Jennifer Benitez, Greg Burriss and Matt Fry during auditions held in early February.

Pate expects “Sing and Play” to return next year with registration for auditions opening sometime around Dec. 1. JMArts is already looking at possible dates for next year’s competition, which is likely to be held once again in mid- to late-February.

More information about “Sing and Play” and other arts events scheduled this season is available at Photos from this year’s showcase concert are online at


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here