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home : news : news May 22, 2019

3/14/2019 12:07:00 AM
Heafner-Williams Vocal Competition This Weekend
Meet the contestants!
(Top L-R) Kathleen Felty, Xan Jennings, Corey Lovelace(Bottom, L-R) Thando Mamba, Lindsey Swann and Andrea TulipanaPhoto of Adrian Smith not available.
(Photos Courtesy Heafner-Williams Vocal Competition)

(Top L-R) Kathleen Felty,
Xan Jennings, Corey Lovelace


(Bottom, L-R) Thando Mamba,
Lindsey Swann and Andrea Tulipana


Photo of Adrian Smith not available.

(Photos Courtesy Heafner-Williams Vocal Competition)


Thomas Lark
Staff Writer


LINCOLNTON, N.C.––It’s show time!

Yes, the annual Heafner-Williams Vocal Competition is upon us. It will be held this weekend at the Lincoln Cultural Center, according to its lead organizer, Lincolnton native and acclaimed international opera star Carolyn Heafner.

You’ve already met local singers Alexandria McNeely and Bailey Beam (see links at the bottom of this page). Now meet the other contestants. 

Kathleen Felty
Kathleen Felty hails from Lubbock, Texas. This native of the Lone Star State is sure to be a big star.

Felty is a fellow at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute in Winston-Salem, pursuing a master of music degree. She apprenticed at the Santa Fe Opera and has progressed from there.

In the fall, she made her North Carolina Opera concert début and her Dayton (Ohio) Opera début. She is a four-time winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She will join the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago for this year’s season. 

Xan Jennings
Xan Jennings is a contralto.

“Another rare bird,” Heafner observed. “Very diverse and busy.”

Jennings is a native of Orangeburg, S.C., and a graduate of the Greenville-based South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She earned a bachelor of music degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a master’s in music at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. 

She toured South Africa as Maria in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess; sang opera in Amalfi, Italy and here in America; and played Charlene in Fats Waller’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Amarillo Opera, amongst a host of other efforts. She was the regional winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing in Texas and Louisiana. Jennings was a young artist with the Palmetto Opera, and she won the adult women’s division of the South Carolina National Association of Teachers of Singing. 

Corey Lovelace
Corey Lovelace is currently a resident artist with Opera Carolina and on

the faculty at Winthrop University’s School of Music.  She performs very
regularly with the opera. 

Lovelace made her international début as a member of the Opera Studio at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She completed her master’s degree in vocal performance at DePaul University in Chicago. 

Thando Mamba
Thando Mamba is a native of Swaziland and a renowned baritone.

Through a scholarship, Mamba also studied at the United World College in Dilijan, Armenia. He is currently at Duke University, where he not only studies music performance with the hopes of being an opera singer, but he also minors in
biology and chemistry. 

“We can’t wait to hear this talented and dedicated young man,” said Heafner.

Lindsey Swann
“Lindsey Swann is what one calls a dramatic soprano,” said Heafner, “meaning that she sings the big-voice stuff!”

Swann won second-place honors in the Heafner-Williams Vocal Competition last year, Heafner continued.

“And we are eager to hear her again,” she added. “Definitely a major talent.”

Swann earned a master of music in vocal performance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Central Florida. She has performed in operas and won other prizes, including second place in the Rosen-Schaffel Young Artist Competition. And she was a Florida district winner in the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. 

Adrian Smith
Hickory native Adrian Smith now resides in South Carolina.

“He is a rarity,” said Heafner, “and he is a good one.”

Smith went from Lenoir-Rhyne University to the Boston Conservatory, singing wonderful leading rôles on theopera stage and concert stages and with symphony engagements.

“Adrian entered the competition many years ago as a young student,” Heafner added. “We are excited to have him come back.” 

Andrea Tulipana
Andrea Tulipana is originally from Kansas City, Mo.

She is currently living with her husband and cat in Greensboro, where she studies with Dr. Carla LeFevre. 

Tulipana has a degree in vocal performance from Butler University. She has performed major soprano rôles. She will participate in the Brevard Summer Music Institute and Festival this summer, where she will perform the title rôle in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah.

The Heafner-Williams Vocal Competition is open to singers 18-35, who reside in or are enrolled in schools in the Carolinas and Virginia. The event will be held March 16 at 11 a.m. (the semi-finals) and March 17 at 3 p.m. (the finals, with a reception to follow) at the Lincoln Cultural Center. It is free and open to the public.


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Related Stories:
• Lincolnton's Bailey Beam To Sing This Weekend
• Vale's Alexandria McNeely Among Competing Singers


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