Jun 18, 2013 View All News

Winning Ways


Scholars share their winning ways

“Roses do indeed bloom in Newark and we must continue to plant the seed.”

That sentiment, heard at the annual The Star-Ledger Scholarship for the Performing Arts recital, was spoken by A-La Renee Davis – a young opera singer – in an emotionally moving speech before a full house at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater. Her call to action referred to the scholarship program’s success with nurturing artistic promise in city teens by lightening the burden of college tuition.

To borrow the metaphor, talent blossoms at the springtime celebration, which honors the newest recipients alongside “alumni” like Davis, who was granted a scholarship in 2009. NJPAC’s Arts Education Department hosts this reunion and performance showcase hand-in-hand with The Star-Ledger and John and Suzanne Willian through Goldman Sachs Gives.

Since 1999, the scholarship has helped young performing artists from Newark to finance their four-year college educations. This year, a total of $100,000 was given to four students (one $40,000 and three $20,000 scholarships). “Your support of this scholarship has changed lives,” Davis remarked.starledgerrecital_300x232.jpg Meet the 2013 winners, all of whom touched the crowd with their creativity and exceptional performance technique:


Sabrina Dias, the top honoree, is a percussionist from Arts High School who will major in sports therapy at Kean University in the fall. She performed Bate Palma, with music by Tommy Igoe and arrangements by Peter Saleh, on drums and marimba. Dias already has compiled a list of accomplishments, including appearances at the United Nations’ International Jazz Day, hosted by Herbie Hancock, and the Side by Side concert presented by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at NJPAC.

Briana Marshall, also from Arts High, is a dance major heading for the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She choreographed her own work, titled Words Unsaid, to “Words Unsaid” by Alicia Keys.

Jency Zephirin is a student at Malcolm X. Shabazz High School who recently began acting and will attend Howard University. He shared a harrowing scene from Suzan-Lori Parks’ play Topdog/Underdog with Shamsuddin Abdul-Hamid, recipient of the 2010 $40,000 scholarship.

Brittney-Nicole Evans, another dance major from Arts High, will continue her dance studies at Montclair State University. During the recital, she performed Looked Inside, set to Nina Simone’s “Looked Inside” and choreographed by Ronnie D. Carney.