Introducing the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award

Bassoonist Sandra Bailey was excelling academically and musically when, at the end of her sophomore year of high school, her father lost his job and the family had to relocate from their home in Las Vegas.

“I had to leave everything behind,” she recalls. “I’d never owned an instrument; the ones I played belonged to the school. I never really knew how much I loved music until I was without.”

After a brief stint in Chicago, Sandra and her family relocated again to Atlanta. She hadn’t had a permanent home in months and was feeling discouraged about her musical career. Then she heard pianist and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Clifton Williams on a broadcast of NPR’s From the Top.

“He came from a tough neighborhood, and even with his circumstances he strived to be his best. He inspired me to keep going, to keep trying.”

Encouraged by Clifton’s story, Sandra applied for From the Top’s Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, a scholarship opportunity for talented, pre-collegiate musicians who have financial need, and in April 2011 was selected for the scholarship. This enabled her to finally purchase her own bassoon, which she debuted in her From the Top radio performance.

Of the experience, Sandra says, “Before I was selected as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist, I had given up the courage to pursue the field that I love. All it took was a phone call and my future was back in my hands, not determined by my financial situation or past struggles.”

As you know, musical training can be prohibitively expensive for students and their families. To address this, From the Top and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation partnered in 2005 to create the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. Through this scholarship program, we have awarded more than $1.6 million in scholarships to date to exceptional pre-collegiate musicians like Sandra who have financial need. Each Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist is given up to $10,000 in financial support for music studies, the chance to participate in From the Top’s Arts Leadership Program, and the opportunity to perform on a national radio broadcast of From the Top.

How to Apply
Know a talented young musician (ages 8-18) who has financial need? The 2012-2013 scholarship application, eligibility requirements, and additional information are available here. It is free to apply, and the next scholarship postmark deadline is December 1, 2012.

We hope you will contact us at (617) 437-0707 x114 with any questions regarding the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award and the many other opportunities we have for young musicians here at From the Top! We look forward to hearing from you and your students.