Alexis Clare
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Alexis Clare

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The best kept secret in music

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"US Post Office To Honor McKinnon"

Post office to honor McKinnon
By eedition
Created 04/28/2011 - 20:24
ByJON BAKER
jbaker@pawtuckettimes.com

0427LINC MCKINNON RESPONDS.jpg [2].LINCOLN — When Brian McKinnon received a letter from North Kingstown Postmaster Phil Picott back on Friday, April 1, he first wondered if the contents were some kind of April Fool's Day joke.
After all, McKinnon had known Picott for a couple of decades anyway, so why not?
He re-read the letter, addressed to his 10-year-old daughter, renowned soprano Alexis Clare McKinnon, and still had his doubts.
In it, Picott stated “Dear Miss McKinnon: As the Postmaster of North Kingstown … I am pleased to invite you, your family and fans to a Stamp Presentation in your honor! The United States Postal Service (USPS) would like to recognize your amazing worldwide achievement in being the youngest person ever to star in a professional opera and musical production.
“In addition, I would like to also recognize you as being the youngest college student, (at) age nine, ever to have starred in a leading role in an opera at the University of Rhode Island,” Picott wrote.

Admitted Brian McKinnon: “I had no inkling this was going to happen. I didn't quite understand what it was. I mean, what the heck is a stamp presentation? I was wondering if they were going to put her picture on a stamp. So I called Phil, an old friend, and asked him. He laughed like heck, 'No, Brian, she's not getting her photo on it. We're going to give her one!'”

On Friday, May 13, at 11 a.m. at the North Kingstown Post Office, 7715 Post Road, the USPS not only officially will release its 44-cent “Jazz” forever stamp but also present one to Alexis Clare, who last November 21 starred in the opera “Amahl & the Night Visitors” at the University of Rhode Island's Fine Arts Concert Hall.
The girl, who will collect a plaque for her already amazing singing career, also will perform the song “Music and Me,” one made famous by Michael Jackson, at the ceremony.

The natural question for the Lonsdale Elementary School fourth grader's parents, Brian and Laurie (Cullen), was this: Why this, and why North Kingstown?
“It's crazy, but I think it's because I grew up in North Kingstown with my brother, John, and my parents (John and Phyllis) still live there,” chuckled Laurie, a 1989 NKHS graduate and now a speech pathologist. “You know, I used to work in that building, which is now the post office, when it was an Almac's (grocery store). I was a front-end manager there from (age) 17 until, I guess, about 23.
“It's kind of mind-boggling,” she added. “I never would've thought, or dreamed, at that time that my daughter, as a singer, would be performing at a stamp dedication. That's the same place where I used to cash out food or bring money to the cashiers. It's mind-boggling. I guess this is what they mean by 'full circle.'
“When I called my parents in (Dunedin,) Florida – they're 'snowbirds' for a few months each winter – and they just said, 'You've got to be kidding me!' A lot of their friends go to see Alexis when she's performing, and I know they've told them, 'Go to the post office (on May 13)! That's our granddaughter!'”

**

Most recently, little Alexis performed in “Opera and Broadway: Tenors vs. Divas” at the Edward King House, a Newport mansion, on Friday, April 15. Two days later, she trekked to URI to sing “When You Wish Upon A Star” and “Belle Nuit” (with URI senior Kelsey Hopkins) in the “Comedy Tonight!” show.
“I woke up that (Friday) morning with a double-ear infection, and my dad called the doctor,” stated the girl, who has an astonishing voice range from low-G to whistle tones. “He prescribed some medicine, and – instantly – my ears were better.
“My ears blocked up again on Sunday morning, and I could barely hear myself sing, but I was going to anyway, because I love it,” she added. “It makes people happy, and I like doing that.”
She also currently is under the tutelage of Prof. Rene de la Garza, the URI Department of Music & Vocal Studies' Director, and has been since age five. And she's the youngest performer ever to represent “Opera Providence,” which is directed by – who else? – de la Garza.
At age seven, Alexis Clare (her stage name) was one of the youngest students ever to be invited to Julliard School in New York to take part in its Pre-College Division Saturday Morning Program. On March 7, 2010, she sang “When You Wish Upon A Star” with fellow soprano and star Diana McVey in “Movies & Musicals” at the Kingston campus.
In May, she provided the opening act for two-time Grammy Award winner and Seekonk native Bill Harley at “The Farewell Party,” a commemoration of the Fairlawn Early Learning Center closing; and, back in October, sang at the Southern New England Women's Expo at the Twin River Event Center, and delivered “Castle on a Cloud” and “When You Wish … “ at the Music Mansion in Providence later that month.
In “Amahl & the Night Visitors,” she became the youngest performer/sing - Pawtucket Times Newspaper Jbaker@pawtuckettimes.com


"9 yr old stars in Amahl"

n - University of Rhode Island


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10 year old Alexis Clare has been under the training of Professor Rene de la Garza of The University of Rhode Island, Dept of Theatrical Voice & Studies for 5 years. This November, Alexis Clare made national history by performing the lead role, Amahl, at the URI Opera Workshop's "Amahl and The Night Visitors " a classic opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti. She was deemed the youngest, at age 9, to have played a lead role at any university or with The NYC Metropolitan Opera. Alexis Clare is the youngest student at the University of Rhode Island Dept of Music & that Prof. de la Garza has worked with in 30 years. Her vocal range is amazing- from the 5th Octave to Low g, similar to her idol and friend, Mariah Carey and Idol the Late Minnie Riperton .