Weatherford Democrat

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June 28, 2013

Just a-singing

Area musicians hone skills at workshop

By SALLY SEXTON

Aspiring singers and musicians got the opportunity of a lifetime, as participants all over Texas had the chance to participate in the Belinda Gail Youth Workshop Thursday at the Doss Center with two big names in country and gospel music.

Belinda Gail, seven-time Western Music Association Female Performer of the Year, and singer/songwriter Dan Roberts, who was named Male Vocalist of the Year in 2011 and Entertainer of the Year in 2002 by the Academy of Western Arts, were two of several mentors on hand to guide and educate young musicians and singers.

“I’m amazed at the talent,” Gail, who hails from Arizona, said of the six participants. “When they called and asked me if I wanted to come down and help these kids hone their skills, I was thrilled to do it.”

The workshop, put on by the Western Music Association, was open to youth across the state focused on western country music, with six participants from all over the state participating.

“I’ve always loved western music and I’ve been singing for a long time,” 16-year-old Mandy Brown, from Weatherford, said. “For the longest time, I also wanted to play guitar.

“Being here (at the workshop), I’ve learned a lot so far.”

During the one-day event Thursday morning, group workshops were held, with several mentors, including singer and educator Judy James and radio host Michael White, of QXFM’s “The Daily Grind.”

Under the mentors, students were able to learn vocal skills, get feedback on various instruments, improve performance and buckle techniques and showcase their microphone skills. Thursday night, the group performed songs with Gail.

“It’s about helping these young singers perfect their craft,” James said.

The Western Music Association is an organization featuring numerous performers, including Michael Martin Murphey, “Outlaw Jessie Del” Robertson and more, with several individuals and groups playing around the world.

For more information on the organization, visit www.westernmusic.org.

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