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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


June 14, 2013  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Daughter of Pinellas cantor is national finalist in American songbook competition

Jewish Press

Maya Jacobson Maya Jacobson Along with more than 700 other high school theater students from 22 states, earlier this year Maya Jacobson of Clearwater sent in an audition tape for the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative.

Now, after being tapped as a contender and a regional competition, she is one of 10 national finalists who will compete in Indiana in July.

The Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Youth Initiative focuses on popular music from Broadway and Hollywood musicals prevalent from the 1920s through the 1960s. The competition aims to educate high school vocalists on the Songbook’s cultural significance and musical importance, aspects that are not lost on Maya.

“I love the genre with all my heart and feel so honored to represent the Southeast,” said Maya.

Sometimes called “American Standards,” the pieces have been an influence on musical theater from the time of inception through today. Early pioneers include legendary vocalists and performers Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The genre may be studied in history books, but it is no less influential to modern artists. From a collection of American standards performed by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, released in 1970, to contemporary crooner and Songbook interpreter Michael Bublé, the genre is still alive and thriving.

At the regional finals in Atlanta,

Maya sang two songs at the competition: “If I Loved You” by Rodgers and Hammerstein and “Bei Mir Bistu Shein,” a Yiddish song composed by Jacob Jacobs and Sholom Secunda.

“Bei Mir Bistu Shein” comes from a 1932 Yiddish comedy musical, I Would If I Could (in Yiddish, Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht). “I picked “Bei Mir Bi Stu Shein” because of the Yiddish chorus and the catchy melody,” said Maya, a member of Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor.

Upon receiving the news of her placement as a national finalist, Maya says she was “Ecstatic. Seriously freaking out.”

She will compete in late July in Indiana for the title of Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador, a $3,000 prize, and the opportunity to perform with Michael Feinstein, a five-time Grammy award entertainer and founder of the program. Also included for the 10 national finalists is a five-day Great American Songbook “boot-camp” led by top industry professionals.

The final performance of the competition will be held in the 1,600-seat Palladium Concert Hall at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, IN.

Maya’s love of music formed early. She began performing at age 6 in various synagogues with her mother, Cantor Deborah Jacobson of Temple Ahavat Shalom. Now a junior at Berkley Preparatory School in Tampa, she has participated in several theater productions and just last year completed a summer theater program at Oklahoma City University. She hopes to pursue musical theater in college.

As for the competition finals, Maya says she is preparing by immersing herself in the genre. “I’m listening to all of these incredible songs and attempting to learn even more about their composers and leading singers.”

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