Eight Ouachita Baptist University students were named finalists at the 38th annual Southern Region National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) conference held at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., earlier this month.

"We choose to participate in the Southern Region NATS conference and auditions because it is one of the most viable education opportunities available for young singers in our region," said Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of OBU’s vocal studies program and professor of music. "I am most proud of the fact that Ouachita students realize the incredible opportunity that exists for continued enlightenment and development of their understanding of the singing art."

More than 300 students from colleges and universities throughout Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana participated in the competition, including 40 Ouachita students. At the conference, students auditioned in classical or music theatre divisions and have the opportunity to attend recitals, master classes and professional workshops and presentations.

"The importance of this event is truly the experience that is gained for each performer," said Victoria Clark, a sophomore from Bonnerdale, Ark. Clark earned second place in the sophomore women division and was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

"When I heard I was a finalist, I was extremely excited and felt extremely blessed," Clark added. "Finals provide an opportunity to truly focus on the performance and make the most of it. With each performance I gave, I truly focused on giving it to the glory of God."

Garrett Sayers of Greenwood, a sophomore musical theatre student of Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the sophomore men division.

Ouachita students were accompanied by the following OBU staff accompanists: Susan Monroe, John Briggs and Phyllis Walker.

The OBU vocal faculty who worked with Ouachita students to prepare for this conference include: John Briggs, adjunct professor of music; Dr. Maggie Garrett, assistant professor of music; Suzetta Glenn, lecturer of music; Dr. Glenda Secrest, professor of music; Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of the vocal studies program and professor of music; David Stanley, instructor of music; and Robin Williams, vocal music lecturer.

For more information about NATS or Ouachita’s vocal studies program, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edusecrestj@obu.edu> or (870) 245-5134.