PLAINVIEW — Wayland Baptist University sophomore Christion Draper has known from an early age what he wanted to do with his life – and it wasn’t the typical dream of adolescent youth. Draper wants to sing opera.
“I know I want to gig,” Draper said. “I want to go to some opera house and just tear it up on stage and leave it all out there. I want to sing in Sydney (Australia). I want to sing all over the world and be in every single opera I can be in for the baritone role.”
It is Draper’s insatiable love of music that led to his being selected to represent the WBU School of Music in the prestigious Texas Association of Music Schools scholarship competition at which Draper was named the grand-prize recipient.
A charismatic soul, Draper quickly made a name for himself on the Wayland campus. Hungry for knowledge, his professors took note of his willingness to learn and his passion for music.
“He is so excited to be a music scholar,” said Dr. Ann Stutes, Dean of the School of Music at Wayland. “He loves performing, but he also loves learning. When we have students in our classes who enjoy learning as much as he does, it makes our jobs incredibly worthwhile.”
Not only is Draper a model student, but his professors also realized that he is phenomenally talented. As a result, Draper was nominated as the school’s representative in a scholarship competition hosted by the Texas Association of Music Schools.
Stutes explained that a generous donation from the Clara Freshour-Nelson family funds the scholarship competition. The gift was given to the state organization due to the family’s desire to give music students from across the entire state a chance to earn scholarship money. As a result, TAMS set up three competitions, for two-year schools, four-year private institutions and four-year public institutions.
“Every school that is a member of TAMS is allowed to nominate one true second-semester freshman for the scholarship competition,” Stutes said.
The contestants compete and scholarships are awarded based on musical performance and need. Stutes, who judges the two-year and four-year public schools competitions, said the judging committees generally award multiple scholarships in each category depending on how many students they feel are worthy. The judging committee also names a single grand-prize recipient for each of the three categories.
Draper was nominated by the School of Music and submitted an essay and a 10-minute recording of his music. As a result, he was named the grand-prize recipient for the four-year private schools competition, competing against music students from schools such as Baylor, Southern Methodist and Texas Christian University.
“Christion is probably one of the finest vocal students we have ever had at Wayland,” Stutes said.
As a grand-prize winner, Draper will be invited to perform at the TAMS meeting in January.
“I get flown to Austin to sing for all the deans in Texas. I get to put on a mini concert. It’s very prestigious. They are flying in my family, my accompanist, my voice teacher and my fiancée by then … probably,” Draper said with a smile.
His girlfriend/fiancée, Andrea Hamric, has also been recognized as a scholarship winner at the TAMS competition.
Draper said he plans to complete his degree in opera at Wayland then continue his education, earning a doctorate in vocal performance.
“We know he is going to go on from this institution and – what we like to say around here – make the world a better place through his music,” Stutes said.