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This Whiz Kid's Got the Blues

Haley Goulding is singing her heart out as she heads back for her second round of Blues Camp for Kids at Columbia College.

Name: Haley Goulding 

Age: 14 

School: Incoming freshman at York Community High School

Achievement: Haley is attending Fernando Jones' Blues Camp for Kids for the second consecutive summer, after being chosen for the camp based on her vocal audition.

Key to Awesomeness: Haley loves to sing. But she didn’t necessarily love the blues until last summer.

“I had no interest in the blues before the camp,” Haley says.

After hearing about the camp, which had its flagship year in 2010, Haley went to Columbia College for the camp’s open audition last spring. In an informal audition, Haley, an alto, sang for Jones and a camera crew.

“Then they told me right there that I made it,” she says.

Jones, an adjunct music faculty member at Columbia, began the camp last year in partnership with the college and the Blues Kids Foundation. The camp is open to kids ages 12 to 18 and draws participants from far and wide. 

According to Haley, a normal day at the week-long camp included breakfast, a morning assembly, ensemble rehearsal, lunch, a jam session or a master class, more rehearsal and private lessons. The camp is free of charge but does not supply transportation or overnight accommodations.

“It was so interesting being around people from all across the country and age spectrum, but all with a passion for blues,” Haley says.

The camp quickly gained attention from the media, and Haley and other campers found themselves in the spotlight.

“It was so much fun. I got interviewed by Harry Porterfield,” Haley says.

The Blues Camp brings in blues heavyweights for a hands-on musical experience.

“I got a private lesson from a woman named Nellie 'Tiger' Travis,” Haley says. “She recorded an original song [written by Fernando Jones], ‘Oil and Water,’ and she gave me a private lesson on how to sing that. I mean, it’s amazing.”

With the camp gaining momentum, Haley noticed some changes at the open auditions this spring.

“The audition was much more nerve-wracking this year,” she says. “Last year it was Mr. Jones, the two-person camera crew and he just played a backing track that you sang to. This year, it was Mr. Jones, a full six-piece band, and about 10 other people—people who were supporting the camp, or musical people to help. And you’re on a stage. It’s a little stage, but it was so scary.”

Haley had her audition piece ready, but the band wasn’t familiar with it.

“We did it anyway,” she says. “The thing about the blues, if someone doesn’t know the song, they can still play it because you just say, ‘Twelve bar shuffle in the key of E’ and off they go.”

The song didn’t go the way she’d rehearsed it, but Haley kept her cool. 

“I ended up taking one part and putting it over here, and switching things around,” she says. “But it worked. That’s the nice thing about blues. It doesn’t have to be cut and dry. You can change things up.”

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