We have seen many moments of athletes getting full-ride scholarships to play for this school or that school coming out of high school.
Not often, however, do we have moments of a student “singing” his way to having part of his college tuition costs covered due to his vocal abilities.
Such was the case late last week when a “signing” ceremony was held for Horn Lake High School bass-baritone Jaden Cleveland, whose music talents will be tutored as he becomes part of the Mississippi State University choral program for the next four years.
By signing his scholarship offer, Cleveland, who is majoring in business administration, is receiving $5,000 a semester over four years. That amounts to a $40,000 scholarship award to sing with the MSU choral program.
Cleveland said his recruitment involved being part of an audition.
“I had to go down there and audition in Starkville,” Cleveland said. “I was put into a room and I had to sing scales with the piano and I had to sing a piece that I learned.”
For Holly Beck, Horn Lake High School choir director, Cleveland became the sixth student over the past two years to attract a choral scholarship for their college education. Last year, Beck’s program had five students sign scholarship offers and some of them will be joined by Cleveland at Starkville.
“Mississippi State has five different choirs and Jaden was originally placed in the top group and the men's group,” Beck said. “With coronavirus, it changed the way they have auditions, so on a technicality, he was just having to learn a piece that they selected and he submitted that just to solidify where they've already placed him.”
Cleveland credits music and his vocal teachers in middle school and Beck at the high school for who he is today.
“Music is my life,” Jaden explained. “If it wasn't for music I don't know where I would be right now. I've been in the choir since seventh grade and it taught me a lot about myself.”
Beck saw the talent Cleveland has when he first came to Horn Lake High and plugged into it right away.
“Normally when they come to the high school I don't put ninth graders in our top groups and he was one that was immediately placed in our top group,” Beck explained. “He has a great ear and has worked really hard on the reading aspect of music, but he's got that down, otherwise, he wouldn't be getting the scholarship he's received.”
Beck added that work is definitely a big part of great vocal music and Cleveland has done the work.
“He (Jaden) was our section leader this year for the bass section and he had a lot to wrangle because in the big group we had quite a few ninth-graders move up,” Beck said. “There is work to be better at voice. He's not majoring in music but he's getting such a large stipend to help his education.”