Recently, another special RFA student entered the spotlight as she ventured out into the world after high school. Quiana Holmes is one of those students who has definitely reached for the stars, and the sparkle Michelle saw as a fifth grade student shines even brighter today as she is now touring with the musical production Dancing In The Streets, scheduled to perform here in Syracuse at the Crouse Hinds Theater at the Oncenter, on April 12. Quiana took a moment while on the road to say hello to NYS Music and share a little of this dream come true experience with us.
Kathy: Hi Quiana. Thank you so much for talking with NYS Music. I am very excited to introduce you to my readers. For those that don’t know you, tell us a little about your background in music and what you love most about it.
Quiana Holmes: Thank you. Well I’ve been in music my whole life. Most of my family is musical. I grew up with it in church, and that’s really how it started. My mom being the choir director and putting on plays in my church, she would always have me star in her plays and singing in the choir, so that is how I really began music, in my church. What I love most about it is that is where I feel most at home, and brought me back to my roots. That connection with music is because that is where I grew up and where it began. That is where I am most comfortable.
KS: Did you always know you wanted to pursue music as a career or was this something that developed over time?
QH: Growing up, we were told that music didn’t offer a lot of jobs in the music field. So that obviously deterred me. My decision in music was difficult as I wanted to be stable, so because i loved science as well, I thought maybe I would pursue that area of study instead, until my senior year. At that time I looked at all my extra curricular activities and that is when I realized that I do not have any activities I do with science, instead everything I do was music; choir, musicals, Rhapsody, and show choir. Everything was music. So I decided to leave all that negativity behind and said I am going to do what I love, and I am going to study music.
KS: I admire your spunk and determination. While in school, was there a specific teacher who nurtured your love of music or a moment in school that helped you to know this was your destiny?
QH: It wasn’t just one teacher. I’m so lucky to be able to say that. It began with my piano teacher, and I began piano lessons in middle school. Her name was Nina Merrill. She nurtured me in learning the theory of music. She taught me note placement on keyboard, reading music, things like that. Then when I got to RFA, I was lucky enough to have four wonderful teachers; Twyla Edwards, Michelle Rushford, Mary Kay Madonia, and Jake Meiss. Yes, I was lucky to get to work with all of them. Twyla Edwards, I worked with for jazz voice and select choir. Michelle Rushford, I worked with for combo choir in which we would all get together for NYSSMA and learn the classical style of things. I had Mary Kay Madonia for orchestra because I played violin; and finally Jake Meiss for all of the musicals, marching band, and show choir. So I was able to work with all of them and they are all so great to me and told me, “Listen, no matter what you decide you belong here,” because they really wanted me to go on with this. At that time I was going to keep to my original plan of being a forensic scientist and make sure I’m able to make a living. They kept telling me, “Look Quiana, you have a gift. You need to hone your gift and pursue this.” So, I have all of them to thank for getting me started with this.