Oakland University musical theatre student takes top honors at ‘NextGen National’ competition
Noah Canales, a junior musical theatre major at Oakland University, has been named the “First Place Male Singer” in the fourth annual “NextGen National: Finding the Voices of Tomorrow” competition, which featured vocal performers from colleges and universities from across the United States.
The national honor includes a $1,000 scholarship and a paid performance with the American Pops Orchestra (APO) in their 2021-22 season.
“When I found out I won the Chip Hand Award for Vocal Excellence through the ‘NextGen National: Voices of Tomorrow’ competition, I was overwhelmed with gratitude,” Canales said. “There were so many talented vocalists that could have easily won. However, with supportive coaching, extensive hours of training, and a love for musical theatre I received the honor. I am honored to have placed first, and I look forward to working with the APO and utilizing the professional resources they will provide.”
Canales was selected as one of 11 finalists, following a highly competitive semi-final round featuring 30 singers in November 2020. Participating colleges and universities included Elon University, Indiana University, Liberty University, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, Oakland University, Sheridan College, Temple University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the University of Michigan.
“Oakland University’s Musical Theatre program has helped me develop my craft and performance skills beyond what I thought was possible,” Canales said. “The faculty continuously cultivates the potential in each of their students, introducing the tools we need to be professional, independent artists.”
Canales was encouraged to enter the virtual competition by his voice teacher, Dr. Alta Marie Boover, an assistant professor of voice at Oakland University.
“Through her guidance, I was able to prevail despite a challenging and non-traditional school year,” Canales said. “Having a vocal coach who believes in your abilities and wants nothing but the best for you is empowering beyond explanation.”
Dr. Boover called Canales “a fantastic vocal athlete with a lot of promise,” and said she was proud of his performance in the competition.
“Noah has found ways to stay engaged and build skills throughout this year,” she said. “He’s done a lot of studio work and editing, and has built projects and found creative ways to share his work. Vocally, he is a singer who can make a lot of different sounds and sing fluently in a lot of different styles. I can’t wait to see the career he builds.”
You can watch Canales’ award-winning performance on YouTube.