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SCAD students sing ‘Savannah Songs’

University offers a musical tour through time on Georgia Day

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SCAD’s getting in on the Georgia Day celebrations. With "Savannah Songs," the university will honor the history of music in the Hostess City. Attendees can explore four SCAD buildings, each with its own theme: the Gryphon Tea Room will turn into a 1920s café, while Morris Hall will highlight the 1860s. Art’s Café transforms into an '80s shake shop, and right across the street, Poetter Hall’s guests will be whisked back to the '40s with a big band, USO-style dance.

Each building will host live music, performed by students from a range of majors. SCAD alums Kiandra Richardson, George Lovett and Christian Magby will join the current students in their performances.

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Richardson recently broke out on the theatre scene after playing Whitney Houston in Born for This: The Bebe Winans Story at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. Taking on her dream role was a huge decision for Richardson, who was a contestant during American Idol’s final season when she was offered the part. Before she heads out on a national tour, the SCAD grad returns to Savannah to perform as Whitney Houston at her alma mater.

We caught up with Richardson to learn more about her time at SCAD, preparation for the stage, and transforming into one of her musical heroes.

You made a big decision to follow your Born for This offer and not continue with American Idol. What drew you to the role? 

What drew me to the role was receiving a personal phone call from Bebe Winans, a best friend to Whitney, asking me to play the role of Whitney Houston, a woman I've looked up to my entire life. I couldn't dream of a more fulfilling role to play! The opportunity touched my heart in a way American Idol couldn't. 

Whitney Houston's range is, of course, legendary. Can you talk a little about preparing musically for the role?

I watched a ton of YouTube videos! I studied her mannerisms, her tones, her motions when singing, and even her speaking patterns. I made sure I sang no less than three of her most challenging songs at least four times a day to strengthen my vocals and to get myself used to singing in her range of music. 

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How did SCAD prepare you as a professional and performer?

SCAD taught me preparation. Preparation is so important to an artists' career, and many people miss opportunity simply because of not being prepared. For example, knowing your strengths and how to use them, knowing how to do the work that needs to be done in order to accomplish the task at hand, being prepared for any and everything, having tools in your back pocket to resort to when talent is not enough. I've learned that talent is only half the battle, but the work you invest is what will sustain you.

What's next for you?

I am currently working on recording my own music, as well as preparing to do a national tour with Born for This playing Whitney! I am super excited about traveling and I am so ready to see what the future holds for me! It's looking really bright!

CS

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