Keyontia R. Hawkins, a 17-year-old soprano just graduated from the Baltimore School for the Arts, takes a step forward in a promising career with a performance at 8:30 tonight at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington.
Recently named a Presidential Scholar, the nation's highest honor bestowed on graduating seniors, the Overlea resident has been invited to take part in Presidential Scholars National Recognition Week (June 15-20) in the nation's capital and will be honored by President Bush and members of the administration and Congress.
Jean Carter, Ms. Hawkins' voice teacher for the past four years, calls her one of the most gifted students she has had the privilege to teach, adding, "She sings with beautiful tone quality and is very much at ease on stage for someone so young."
Ms. Hawkins is one of three Baltimore-area students among this year's 141 Presidential Scholars and the school for the arts' first Presidential Scholar. Kyle L. Kinsella and Jeanne K. Wilmot, both from Towson High School, were selected for excellence in the visual arts. Their work was exhibited yesterday at the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery.
Ms. Hawkins is the only singer of the 20 seniors chosen for accomplishments in the performing arts.
Although she sang for six years with the New Palmist Baptist Church, she had no voice training before coming to the School for the Arts. This evening she will sing two operatic arias, "Ain't it a pretty night" from Carlisle Floyd's "Susannah," and "Mein Herr Marquis," from Johann Strauss' "Die Fledermaus."
Sitting in the audience will be Ms. Carter, who directed the young singer's interest away from jazz and pop music and turned it toward opera, teaching her more than 100 arias and classical songs. She will be there as a "distinguished teacher," designated by Ms. Hawkins as the teacher who had the greatest impact on her achievements.
Ms. Hawkins has been accepted by both the Juilliard School of Music and the Mannes School of Music in New York.