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First AFA graduate on her way to VCU to study vocal performance

Emma Tracy started taking voice lessons at age 12. Today she is a college graduate who has parlayed her love of singing into a college degree.

Tracy, 23, became Tidewater Community College’s first graduate to earn an Associate of Fine Arts in Music when she walked across the stage at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on May 12.

“I found that I really didn’t have any other interests or anything else I’m good at except my music,” Tracy said. “It feels great forging this path for other students to follow.”

The Maury High School graduate attended the Governor’s School for the Arts. Tracy came to TCC the first time right out of Maury High and the Governor School for the Arts. The honors graduate struggled with mental health issues initially at TCC, where she failed her early classes.

She returned to the college in spring 2017 to retake courses and start anew.

Emma Tracy performing with TCC's Blue Moon Jazz ensemble at the Norfolk Campus.
Emma Tracy performing with TCC’s Blue Moon Jazz ensemble at the Norfolk Campus.

“I wish I’d known about the support services available for students the first time I was here,” she said. “I’ve learned that everyone here is rooting for you and wants you to succeed.”

Tracy refined and expanded her performances skills at TCC by participating in ensembles and TCC Chorus.

A classical singer who enjoys opera, Tracy discovered jazz singing by joining TCC’s Blue Moon Jazz ensemble. She enjoyed performing with the group so much that she is taking the class again this summer.

“The music program here is such a great community,” she said. “I made so many friends and we help each other out.”

Tracy credits Mark Denison, music program head, and staffer Jeannette Winsor for their support.

Tracy will attend Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue a bachelor’s in vocal performance and hopes to later work toward a master’s in music performance.

“In the music field, you definitely need a degree unless you are some YouTube star, but even then, formal training is really necessary,” she said.

Married to Jesse Ingle who is in the Navy, Tracy spends her free time playing guitar and piano and singing. She also enjoys fitness and spending time with her three cats and her dog named Teddy.

For students pursuing a similar path, she advises, “Don’t be afraid to do what you love. Communicate with your professors. If you have a problem, let them know right away. And don’t ignore your mental health. If you need help – get it.”

Student Art and Design Exhibition opens March 24 at TCC’s Visual Arts Center

Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center (VAC) will host the 47th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition from March 24 through April 19. The event features more than 150 works, including studio arts, photography, graphic design, ceramics and glassblowing, created by students for art classes since last March.

“Fine Tuned with Patience” by Alexandra Brannon

The exhibition’s awards presentation is March 31 at 11 a.m. at the Commodore Theatre, 421 High St., in Portsmouth. The opening reception will follow at noon at the VAC at 340 High St.

Events are free and open to the public.

Robert Sites, artist and painting instructor at the Governor’s School for the Arts, is this year’s judge. During the event, Sites will present $3,285 in awards recognizing artistic excellence.

“Space Fabric” by Taylor Harvey-Thornton

Programming for the exhibition includes illustrated lectures by a visiting artist and a visiting art historian. On April 3, Alison Stinely, assistant professor of painting at Old Dominion University, will present “Gilded Splinters and Other Works.”

On April 11, Kimberli Gant, McKinnon curator of modern and contemporary art at the Chrysler Museum, will present “Legacy of a Curator.” Both programs begin at 12:30 p.m. at the VAC in room 208.

For information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878.