Singing from the soul: Minot student performs at Carnegie
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Singing from the soul: Minot student performs at Carnegie

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MINOT, N.D. (AP) — A Minot High School Central Campus sophomore was given an opportunity of a lifetime to audition for the 2020 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. Jersey Johnson made the audition and traveled to New York City to perform on Feb. 2.

Johnson has had a passion for singing since she was in third grade. She would sing “Amazing Grace” and “America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee) ” with her great-grandmother Alma. Johnson said her great-grandmother would also tell her if she was sharp, flat or off-key to help her be the best she could be.

She did private lessons with Rebecca Petrik with Minot State University to make more progress. Over time, Johnson became comfortable with her voice. When she sings solos for auditions, Italian is her language of choice. When singing in groups, African music makes her want to move while she sings, and “you can just tell that it comes from deep within a person’s soul.” It also makes the audience want to dance, too. “I really enjoy trios,” she said. “Each person has their own part, but I love the way the voices blend.”

What really made her gravitate toward music was how it made her feel. “When I sing, it’s almost like it takes away everything,” she told the Minot Daily News. She wants to show the world who she is by singing for them. Her singing comes from “deep within” her, so she would be sharing her passion through her voice.

Before getting the invitation to Carnegie Hall, she received one for a chorus in Hawaii. She passed it up for Carnegie Hall, auditioning over the summer of 2019. For the audition, she had to record herself singing a solo of her own choice. Prior to the invitation, she had never thought that choruses with singers from all over the world existed.

Singing in one of only five Honors Ensembles “is limited to the highest-rated high school performers from across the world,” her mother, Stacy Johnson, said.

She was able to get where she is by becoming a member of the Western Plains Opera Youth Ensemble and singing in the Central Campus High School Choir. Johnson also took part in the Northwest Music Festival, All State Choir, and starred at Western Dakota Association State.

Johnson expressed how grateful she is for the opportunity and for her mother insisting that she try out. Her mother didn’t have to think twice about the audition. She admitted that she didn’t actually open the envelope. She just handed it to her mom. Her mom read the letter and said she should give it a shot.

The young singer said she is very grateful that her parents let her travel to New York. The expenses were out of pocket for everyone involved.

Her immense love for singing is causing her to debate back and forth about what she wants to do. For a while, Johnson wanted to become a veterinarian to help animals in need. She’s looked into veterinarian schools, such as North Dakota State University and Iowa State, and music schools like Juilliard.

When it’s decided what she would like to go to college for, she said she may consider playing soccer if the school had a team. On the other hand, focusing on her grades is very important so she can be successful. If she decides to focus more on her grades, an adult soccer league is always an option. Hockey is also a sport she plays in high school but she doesn’t think it’s something she would want to do in college.

She hopes one day to possibly go to Australia and sing in the music hall in Sydney. “The Voice” and “American Idol” have also been on her family’s minds. If auditions are happening somewhere close to North Dakota, Johnson said she would love to go.

The only thing holding the young singer back is the idea of “how hard it is to make it.” Singers like Adam Lambert and Kelly Clarkson got their major start in music through “American Idol,” whether they won or not. It was hard work and they had to work their way up.

Johnson’s motto is “All you can do is try.” That’s what she’s going to do to reach her goals: try her best.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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