February 12, 2004
Cowley student hopes audition CD pays off with scholarship
Devin Woods would trade cold and snowy Kansas for the perpetual sunshine of Arizona any time. And with a little luck, his dream of singing and studying in Arizona State University's vocal music department will come true.
Woods is a sophomore music major at Cowley County Community College who recently recorded an audition CD with seven tracks. His initial purpose was to send the CD to ASU, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Wichita State University.
But here's the twist: Several friends and acquaintances have requested a copy. Woods figures he has more than 50 orders as of Feb. 9.
"I decided to get a little production thing going," said Woods, who is from Manhattan. "I'm not looking to make a profit from it."
What he is looking for is a positive response from ASU, UMKC, and WSU. He had hoped to send a CD to The Juilliard School in New York City, but he missed the deadline.
The seven songs Woods sings on the CD are diverse and show his range as a high tenor. One is in Italian, one is from an English opera, and two are Broadway tunes. He has titled the CD "Con la Mano del Dio," which is Italian for "With the hand of God." He hopes to have the CDs available by Feb. 20.
Woods has sign-up sheets posted around campus. People also can stop into the Humanities Office in the Brown Center to get their copy. He's selling the CDs for $1 each.
Woods is a member of the CC Singers and the Cowley Concert Choir. Both groups are under the direction of Connie Donatelli. Woods auditioned for a scholarship to Cowley in April 2002.
"I didn't even know if I wanted to go to school," Woods said. "I auditioned here first, then I went to Butler (County Community College). There was something about Connie and Cowley. She made me feel welcome. She made it so easy to sit there and sing for someone I'd never met before."
A recommendation from Dan Commerford, head of the music department at Manhattan High School, also persuaded Woods to check Cowley out. Commerford knew of Donatelli through a mutual friend, Woods said.
Woods is happy he chose Cowley.
"I've made plenty of progress with my singing ability," he said. "I've made lifetime friendships with students, faculty, everybody. I consider faculty personal friends."
Woods, who has an entire collection of George Jones music, said he planned to send an audition tape to Juilliard after a year at ASU, UMKC, or WSU.
"I'm really excited about the future," Woods said. "When I'm excited about something, like this CD, I can really sit down and concentrate. When I'm just doing music, I can excel so much better."
Woods said he was working toward two goals. He'd like to get into opera, and he'd like to become what he called a stylistic singer.
"I'd like to sing from the classical times baroque style," said Woods, referring to a style of musical composition that flourished in Europe from about 1600 to 1750. "If someone needs a professional tenor, they'll fly you in all over the country. It's starting to get me interested in learning two to three styles."
If it doesn't work out, Woods said he'd like to become a choral director for middle school or high school-aged children.
"That's when they're first developing their voice," he said.
Woods burst on the Manhattan scene when he sang Garth Brooks' "Not Counting You" with his father, Russel. He was a second-grader.
"My dad started singing country music, and one day he asked me if I could sing this song," Woods recalled. "I sang 'Not Counting You,' and my dad said 'wow.'
"So I sang it at my second-grade talent show. When I saw the faces of people in the audience, I knew that singing was for me."
Woods said he always had an interest in singing. It began when his parents listened to country music on the radio.
"We always listened to country music, and whenever we were in the car, I'd sing," Woods said. "I've performed with my dad in his shows in the Manhattan and Topeka area. That's basically where I got my start."