Dr. Lisa Sain Odom practically beams talking about her vocal students. During the last few years, those students have not only excelled at singing competitions, they have graduated and established burgeoning careers in the arts.

Voice Students at NATS

From left: Katie Lafemina (performing arts – theatre), Dr. Lisa Sain Odom, Joy Laster Jackson (performing arts – voice), Sallie McLeod (performing arts – voice), Haleigh Marcolini (performing arts – voice), John Jeffcoat Mészáros (language and international trade), Wesley Hudson (political science).

“We’ve always had a lot of success here with students winning at state-level and regional-level,” Dr. Odom said. Half a dozen students advanced to the YouTube round of national competition last year, and three were invited to perform in the live round: Wesley Hudson (political science), Roddey Smith (mechanical engineering), and Jordan Taylor (’16; performing arts, voice) competed at the national conference in Chicago.

“That’s always really exciting for me because it’s boosting the profile of our school and our program,” Dr. Odom said. “This is stuff they can put on their resumes and they can say ‘I made it to this round.’ That means something to people in the musical community.”

She is also excited about the new avenues students are pursuing in the classroom: “I think the best thing I’ve seen in the past couple of years has been the ability to have our first opera workshop class, and the students coming out of that class are doing great things.” Jordan Taylor and Joy Laster Jackson (’15), members of the workshop, are pursuing graduate degrees in music: Taylor now studies conducting at Winthrop University, while Jackson studies voice at Georgia State University.

Taylor recently participated in a master class with famed soprano Renee Fleming when she visited the Peace Center in Greenville. While at Clemson, he also took part in a master class with renowned vocalist Denyce Graves.

Jackson is one of two graduates to participate in a young artist program after her time at Clemson. Young artist programs (equivalent to fellowships or internships in other fields) are professional development opportunities for singers that usually take place over the summer. They allow students to work with highly skilled teachers and peers to grow as artists. Jackson received the role of Poppea in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea during the course of her program, which Odom said was a major credit to add on a résumé.

SC NATS Musical Theatre Participants

Jordan Taylor (performing arts – voice), Dixon Graham (performing arts – theatre), Katie Lafemina (performing arts – theatre), Lori Shelton (accompanist), Courtney Lantis (performing arts – voice).

Another graduate, Whitney Davis (’12), also participated in a young artist program. She spent time in Graz, Austria, at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS). After receiving a Master of Music in vocal pedagogy from Belmont University, Davis enrolled in the intensive AIMS program (by chance, the same one Dr. Odom completed when she was a student) where she studied diction, took voice and acting classes, participated in lectures and master classes, and performed in concerts.

This student success is tied to the strength of the major, Dr. Odom said. “Our degree isn’t limiting. You can do whatever you want with this degree.”

She also looks forward to what the future holds for the program. “I would love to see the program grow,” Dr. Odom said. “I would love for people in the state, who want to come to Clemson and want to pursue music, who didn’t know they could do this stuff at Clemson, I want them to know that they can. I want them to come here and to have an opera workshop class every year full of students dying to act, sing, and get that stage experience. I want to empower them to achieve whatever they want and have the support from us to be able to do that.”