Scholarship Recipient Update – Natanya Washer
24-year-old soprano Natanya Washer appeared on From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley on Show 199, recorded in June of 2009. On the show, she received From the Top’s Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. Here is what she has been up to since then, along with some of her thoughts on how the award has impacted her life.
A Passion Becomes a Profession
Natanya Washer received her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the Peabody Institute of Music at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where she studied with Phyllis Bryn-Julson. She then remained at Peabody to pursue her Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance where she studied with Ah Young Hong.
In addition to performing in oratorios, operas, and church services, Natanya enjoys freelancing around the Greater Baltimore area. She has sung the leading role of Poppea in Verdi’s opera, The Coronation of Poppea, and has performed in two premieres: the US premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park, and the world premiere of The Ghost Train Opera by Paul Crabtree, which was presented by the Baltimore B&O Railroad Museum.
What The Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award Meant To Natanya
“With the help of the scholarship I was able to apply to eight conservatories. Something very important and related is that I decided to research the schools that other Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship recipients went to. One of those students was the pianist Dasha Bukhartseva. I looked into her story and watched her video and, because of her, I looked more closely into the Peabody Institute. So I ended up coming here and used the remainder of my scholarship money for books and tuition.
The award really changed things for me. Before receiving it, I was planning to go into engineering and had just done choral music training on the side. I was from a low income home, so the choral music was an outlet for me socially and was a hobby I was passionate about. At that time I felt that by the end of high school I would have to let go of it and begin getting serious about becoming an engineer. It was actually my World Geography teacher who told me to apply for the Scholarship. She had heard of it because she listened to From the Top regularly. So I gave it a try and applied. When I got the phone call that I was to be a recipient, I actually thought it was a joke. I truly didn’t believe it. But once they finally convinced me it was real, that was when my parents and I had a long talk and agreed that I should stop being scared to go into music. They always were supportive of me and my singing, but they began to encourage me and be more vocal about it. In addition, when I was researching the award it was clear that most recipients were instrumentalists and not vocalists. I have an uncle who is a professional trumpet player. When I told him about the award he said that if the folks at From the Top think you’re good enough, then go out and do it! That also helped me to decide that I could go it! In short, receiving that call was a big shocking moment that changed the course of my life.
Learn more about Natanya and listen to her by clicking here.