This year's winner of The Manilow Music Scholarship at The University of Las Vegas is vocalist Amanda Ketterer! We caught up with Amanda to get her incredible story.
Amanda is starting her fourth year at UNLV and describes her style as modern contemporary or Neo-soul. From a young age, her mom had her listening to classic rock. You still might catch Amanda singing REO Speedwagon's Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore in the shower.
Soon after seeing Celine, Amanda got serious about singing and joined her high school's show choir. She wanted to give people that same feeling she had as a little girl looking up at her idol, forgetting everything, and feeling completely "enamored" with how music can pull everybody together.
It was her father that got her hooked on the divas like Mariah, Whitney, and Celine. "When I was thirteen I got to see Celine Dione live, and I was blown away. I've never been the same since. When I got to Vegas (for college) I worked at Caesar's Palace. I got to watch Celine every night. Getting to see one of my idols all the time kept me going when school was tough or when I was having a creative block."
Amanda says her experience at UNLV has been "overwhelming in all the best ways."
"I made all these friends who are musicians and learned as much from my peers as my professors. I've taken the most from the ensembles I've been in and gotten the chance to work with all kinds of amazing faculty."
Naturally, when Amanda found out she won The Manilow Music Project Scholarship, she was in the recording studio. "The director of the program came in and said, 'Hey, by the way, we were able to give you the scholarship."
"I was really excited because I've been working two jobs. You know, school's not cheap so I'm just really grateful to have help in just getting to do what I love every day. The award specifically went to my private one-on-one lessons, which are super important. That's a space where I get to let go and do a lot of development."
We asked Amanda what's next. "I really want to get more into writing and arranging and have my own solo music. I'm also really interested in doing background vocals in tours or residencies out here in Vegas."
Amanda is one of those people you watch and wonder, "How does she find the time and energy to do it all?" We suspect that's why the faculty at UNLV knew she was a perfect recipient for our award. Look out, you'll be seeing and hearing from Amanda very soon!