Freshman student wins national signing contest

by Lauren Stillman, reporter

Among the 1,400 students at Simpson College stands only one national award-winner. Freshman Trevor Rayhons of Garner, Iowa placed first in the National Association of Teachers of Singing’s (NATS) National Student Auditions in Boston this past July. Simpson’s legacy of success will certainly be able to continue with such a talented new voice gracing the campus, and Simpson was cited by NATS as the recipient of an award for a program of vocal excellence.

Rayhons stated that the reason he was drawn to Simpson College was mostly due to the personal connections he made with Bruce Brown and Bernard McDonald, as well as the financial flexibility seen in the Financial Aid department. “It just seemed like the right fit. I walked on campus thinking ‘I don’t know if I am going to go here or not.’ and when I walked off campus with my mom, I left thinking ‘this is it,’” Rayhons said. His story now gets to be a part of Simpson’s excellence.

Rayhons’ journey began by surviving NATS’ regional competition. He then made his way to the national competition by pleasing judges with a YouTube video featuring him performing “Who is Sylvia?” by Finzi, “Die Post from Winterreise” by Schubert, and “Lydia” by Fauré. Once in Boston for the national competition, 14 contenders in 12 different categories competed at the Boston Conservatory to eliminate yet another 11 performers.

The remaining top tier of performers (three from each category) from the high school boys’ category then competed at the Boston Marriot. Having persevered with the best of the best, winning the national competition was “exhilarating” for Rayhons. He explained the feeling as one “…of those numb moments when you don’t understand what’s going on.” He plans on competing in the NATS competition again in 2015, but Rayhons will hold off on other nationally recognized competitions like The Voice and American Idol in order to let his voice mature fully and focus on his upcoming education in vocal performance.

Achieving so much success at such an early age is an astounding accomplishment for anyone, but for Rayhon, this success seems as though it has been a long time coming, considering he began singing in choir in only fifth grade. Although he was pushed into singing and did not look forward to it at first, the hobby caught on quickly. Private lessons at Waldorf College that lasted for two and a half years fed Rayhons’ talents, along with the Iowa Honor Choir, strongly encouraged by his teachers. For Rayhons, the Interlochen Camp was a pivotal moment during the summer of his senior year in deciding what to do with the rest of his life.

College could be intimidating for incoming freshman, but Trevor Rayhons is definitely accustomed to dealing with nerves, considering the national stage he has already experienced. “If you are not nervous, then you don’t care enough. Yes, there is nervousness,” Rayhons explained. Describing his feelings while performing, he said, “…you are becoming the other character. This is wonderful for minutes when you are not yourself. You’re in a room singing but you don’t feel like you.”