During these past few months of change and challenge, we find ourselves continually turning to the performing arts for connection, entertainment, solace and hope.
So when we asked this year’s Y.E.S. Emerging Artists Fund scholarship applicants — 2020 high school graduates who plan to pursue a career in the performing arts — why the award is important to them and how they will change the world with their art, it filled us with hope to hear the personal, insightful responses of these rising college freshmen as they transition into adulthood and take their talents into the world to shine their own visions of hope, promise, community and connection.
Congratulations to the 2020 Y.E.S. Emerging Artists Scholarship winners:
- Anaiya Adwaters (voice/musical theatre)
- Linda Diaz (voice/guitar)
- Chayse Howard (tuba)
- Katherine Stevens (voice/musical theatre)
- Julien Swoap (saxophone/theatre)
- Shelby Taylor (clarinet)
- Aaron White (trumpet)
The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts’ Emerging Artists Fund scholarship program is part of the Y.E.S. Fund and supports young performers by providing scholarships to graduating high school seniors pursuing a performing arts career. Learn more
“Whenever I sing or perform and it’s a live audience…you can really feel when you’re touching somebody, whether it’s comedic or vulnerable. I will just keep using my voice to spread positivity, keep using my voice to get my world out there.”
Anaiya Adwaters is a 2020 graduate of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, North Carolina. She was recognized as one of the Top 20 Seniors for Class of 2020 by school faculty and staff. Throughout high school she was involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities and clubs. She is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars; National Thespian Society – Vice President; Health Occupation Students of America – Vice President; RAMbassador’s – President (school ambassador); Vocal RAMpage – President; Prima Volta Leader. She has also served as an intern, volunteer and community representative. Internship opportunities have been provided through Nursing Fundamentals course this semester (Spring 2020), and through competitive selection for the Minority Medical Mentoring Program (MMMP) with our local Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) last semester (Fall 2019). Additionally, she has been able to volunteer through Interact and Empowerment Clubs at school and in community with various local nonprofits. Anaiya was a participant in Distinguished Young Women of Buncombe County walking away as the talent award winner. Anaiya also has the honor and privilege of serving as the current Miss Asheville Outstanding Teen. Being Miss Asheville’s Outstanding Teen is not only a title, but it is a huge leadership role. Following graduation she will attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She plans to pursue a degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Musical Theatre. Her immediate career goal is to become a professional performer. The arts has served as a positive outlet for Anaiya. She has been singing and dancing competitively most of her 17 years of life. Her desire is to help others benefit positively from the arts just as she has. It is an honor to be a Y.E.S. Emerging Artist Scholarship Awardee. This scholarship will be a tremendous help to Anaiya as it will help move her closer to achieving success and meeting her career goals.
“It’s just something beautiful when you can sit down with someone and be able to connect with them through music…it’s another, different kind of language.”
Linda Diaz-Aguilar was born in U.S.A. but her parents are from Guatemala. Music has been one of her greatest passions since she was small; she began singing when she was five years old and has been in love with music ever since. Lisa plays the guitar, bajo-quinto and the ukulele. She is a 2020 graduate of Enka High School and will be attending University of North Carolina at Asheville. There she will pursue a degree in Music. Linda is excited to take this journey in music and can’t wait for what lies ahead of her.
“I am pursuing an education in music education because I want to give younger generations the same chances and opportunities that I had, and the same memories that I created with my band directors and my fellow band members. Band has changed my life for the better… it is where I found my place in life.”
Chayse Howard was raised to always stay true to himself and do what he loved most. He had no passion for any activity except art until middle school when he picked up the trombone — and then, he tried the tuba. As soon as he played his first note, he was hooked: he knew in that moment that the tuba as an instrument was who he was. Playing in band was the first time that Chayse felt like he fit in. Being surrounded by other passionate musicians his age inspired Chayse to become the best musician he could be. And because of the leadership of many music educators in his formative years, including his band director at A.C. Reynolds High School, Chayse is now pursuing a degree in music education himself so that he can teach younger generations the importance of music. He wants to be there for kids who have don’t have the best lives at home and teach them that music is a haven for everyone. The most important thing to him is music: It defines who he is, and without it, he feels he would be lost in this world. So, if someone asks him who he is, Chayse’s answer will always be: “I am a musician.” Chayse will be attending Appalachian State University where he will major in Music Education.
“I want to be a part of projects that I whole-heartedly believe in, projects that make you think about yourself and your place in the world…those kind of things that make you feel that you are not alone.”
Katherine (Katie) Stevens is a lifelong resident of Asheville. She recently graduated with highest honors from T.C. Roberson High School. She will attend The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall, where she plans to double major in Dramatic Art and Music/Vocal Performance and minor in Environmental Sustainability.
At TC Roberson, Katie was a board member of the National Honor Society, president of her school’s chapter of the National Thespian Society, an officer for acapella group Vocal RAMpage, soprano section leader in Advanced Ensemble Choir, and a member of Chamber Choir. Prior to graduation, Katie was chosen by high school faculty and staff as one of TC Roberson’s Top 20 Seniors of the Class of 2020. The highlight of Katie’s high school experience was her involvement in the school musicals: as a featured dancer/ensemble member in Cinderella, as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and as Fiona in Shrek. She was in final rehearsals to play Velma Kelly in Chicago when production had to stop due to the pandemic.
Katie has been in many productions at Asheville Community Theatre over the years and has treasured her time there. She has also enjoyed performing with Asheville Performing Arts Academy. During her first high school summer, Katie volunteered with Mission Hospital’s Junior Volunteer Program. She then spent the next two summers training in acting and musical theatre at Interlochen Arts Academy (Dorothy M. Corson Merit Scholar Recipient) and ArtsBridge Musical Theatre Intensive.
Katie is very passionate about art therapy and arts education. She organized and directed “Kids Heal Kids,” a cabaret with fellow young artists around the community to fundraise for the local art therapy nonprofit Arts for Life. She also feels strongly about the power of the arts in schools and hopes to one day balance a career of performance and art therapy/education. Katie was asked to be a guest speaker on the importance of arts in education by State Representative Brian Turner.
Katie is honored and grateful to be a 2020 Y.E.S. Emerging Artist Scholarship Award recipient. She wants to thank her family, friends, and arts educators who have encouraged and supported her passion through the years.
“Art, and theatre, and music — I’ve always had a deep passion for it. I really want to create things that people can connect to… What I want my art to do is to be a comfort for others that are around me, to be informative, and help to impact this world so we can all be a greater community.”
Julien Swoap has been attending shows at the Wortham Center since he was a child. As he grew, he found a passion for the performing arts including his hopes to write plays and musicals. Julien graduated from Nesbitt Discovery Academy in May and is excited to attend Hamilton College. He plans to study Theatre, Creative Writing, Physics, and continue his study of the saxophone. Julien aspires to merge his interests in the performing arts and the sciences. He is deeply grateful to the Wortham Center for his internship experience in 2019 and for this scholarship.
“I really enjoy putting myself into music…I love putting my emotion into it and making it move to speak to people. My goal is to make people think deeper into the music.”
Shelby is a recent graduate of Enka High School. She has a life-long interest and connection with music. She began piano lessons in the third grade, beginning her journey to become the musician she is today. She learned basic theory early on, which helped her in her first concert band setting in sixth grade. Shelby chose to play the clarinet because of Squidward from Spongebob, which she knows sounds ridiculous but it’s true. In eighth grade Shelby earned a spot in All-County and All-District Bands. This initial experience with higher level playing and settings opened up the world of wind ensembles. In high school Shelby focused more on clarinet, now her primary instrument. She participated in Mars Hill University’s band camp the summer after eighth grade. In high school she made the All-County and All-District concert and symphonic bands, and expanded her experience in marching band. As an upperclassman, Shelby became super focused on her music practice and her role as a leader of her peers. She was part of a band leadership class and gave lessons to middle school students. That experience led her to discover a love of music education. As she continued her lessons on clarinet, she performed recitals, and continued to participate at All-State, earning 3rd in the county and 12th in the district. She was invited to join and tour with Mars Hill University’s wind symphony her junior and senior years. Shelby became band president and section leader during her senior year, and is proud to have led the band in victories. Shelby plans to attend Western Carolina University to double major in Music Performance on clarinet and Graphic Design, and looks forward to future marching band experiences at WCU being a part of the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band. She is excited to develop herself even more as a musician, and dreams of performing and having a gathering of students with whom to share her knowledge.
“I do believe that music has a magical power to bring us up from those bad places and…change us for the better. Music can have such a beneficial impact to our everyday life…a special gift one can transmit emotion through.”
Aaron White graduated from T.C. Roberson High School. He was accepted into the trumpet performance program at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts and The New England Conservatory of Music. He was also accepted into the trumpet performance program at Arizona State University. In the fall, he will be attending Arizona State University as a trumpet performance major to study with Joe Burgstaller. Burgstaller is a former member of the famed Canadian Brass, and the New York Philharmonic. He also is a Yamaha Performing Artist, as well as a Columbia Records Recording Artist, and a world-touring soloist. He is a former member of the avant-garde Meridian Arts Ensemble, and the New York Brass Arts Trio.
As a senior in high school, Aaron White served as the principal trumpet of the Asheville Symphony Youth Philharmonic in his junior year, and was the 1st chair principal trumpet of the North Carolina All-State Honors Orchestra his senior year. He also made the North Carolina All-State Honors Band and All-State Jazz Band his senior year. In addition, he made the All-National Honor Band of America, where he traveled to Indianapolis in March for a clinic and concert, which sadly was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. He also made All-County and All-District bands throughout middle and high school, as well as the Western Region Honors Orchestra and Jazz Band his junior and senior years. Once receiving an undergraduate degree he plans to attend graduate school in hopes of receiving a doctoral of arts degree in the near future. As a career, White wants to tour as a soloist, play in chamber groups and orchestras, and to teach at a college or conservatory.