Fuqua takes third place at national competition

Gabby Fuqua competed in the National Association for the Teaching of Singing Competition in North Carolina this summer. She took third place in the Women’s Musical Theatre category.

Born and raised in Florence, senior Gabby Fuqua has been singing since she was 3 years old. What began as a hobby and an act of church choir participation soon blossomed into a passion. At Florence High School, she participated in show choir and theatre, but she said it was not until she came to UNA that she really started to get serious about her singing.

“It’s not just singing anymore, there’s an art form to it,” Fuqua said.

UNA student and Fuqua’s fiancé William Wade said she is always ready to offer a helping hand and a smile.

“Gabrielle is just like the average joe that has all these classes and little time to herself, but she knows when to flip that switch and kick into gear to get where she needs to be both as a student and a performer,” he said.

Fuqua’s major is vocal performance, but she specializes in classical music and opera.

“I never imagined I would be singing opera,” she said.

The less-than-contemporary genre has served her well, though. Over the summer, Fuqua competed in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition in Greensboro, North Carolina. Not only did she make it to the national level of the competition, but she also took third place in the of Women’s Musical Theatre category.

Her praise for the UNA Music Department was high as she commented on the staff as well as Tiffany Brown, her mentor. Brown has worked with Fuqua for three years now, and her feelings for her student are just as admirable.

“Music and singing comes easy to Gabrielle,” Brown said.

“She is a wonderful person dedicated and focused on her musical aspirations. She brings life to every note that she sings, and soaks up every lesson. What makes Gabrielle special is how she can move and connect with her audience.”

In addition to the NATS competition, Fuqua also participated in the Summer Stock youth program at the Ritz, mentoring and encouraging young musical enthusiasts.

At the end of the program, the staff put on six performances of the musical “South Pacific” by Joshua Logan and Oscar Hammerstein II. In this musical, Fuqua played the character Bloody Mary. Her director, fellow UNA senior and friend Amy Johnson, raved about her performance.

“She’s doing an excellent job,” Johnson said. “Everyone has been talking about how well she’s doing.”

Johnson has worked with Fuqua for nearly four years now and had nothing but wonderful things to say about her.

“All I can say about Gabby is she is a great musician, but more importantly she is a great person,” she said.

Recent UNA graduate Grace Ashley, who worked with Fuqua on multiple performances including a production of “Ragtime” last summer, said she has enjoyed watching her grow as a performer.

“She’s not afraid to try new things,” she said. “She’s kind of fearless.”

Wade said he is proud of his wife-to-be and knows she will continue to do big things.

“Gabrielle is one heck of a hard-worker,” he said. “That’s not saying that she doesn’t stumble at all. She is human and she will make mistakes, but one mistake she won’t make is not giving her all to her audience.”