The Songbook Connection: “Goin’ down the Bayou” with my Songbirds
March 31, 2020
Written by Songbook Academy 2019 alum, Josie Corrao.
Josie hails from Oswego, Illinois.
Her future goals are to sing in jazz clubs with big bands,
and perform in musicals across the country.
"[Songbook Academy] is so much more than
an amazing professional opportunity;
you really do meet people that
will be in your life forever."
I think something that makes most people nervous is creating new friends in a new environment. While I have always been a more outgoing person; when I was preparing to go to the Songbook Academy, I was SO nervous about making friends. To say that my initial expectation about making new friends was proven wrong, would be an understatement. The Songbook Academy gave me new friendships, but also GIFTED me with lifelong supporters and people who I consider family. 😊
Michael, Josie and Cassidy outside of the airport in New Orleans.
"What was so beautiful is that it seemed as if time had never stopped since leaving Songbook;
we all picked up right where we had left off
as if we had always been nearby."
The relationships you establish at the Songbook Academy are special for multiple reasons. The first being that everyone there recognizes what an INCREDIBLE opportunity we have been given. It is a humbling experience getting to work with world renowned pianists, vocalists, and coaches who excel at what they do. Each student at the academy recognizes what a blessing it is to be amongst some of the great entertainers of our time. There is a communal sense of gratitude at the Songbook intensive that enables each finalist to really cheer on their friends, which makes the bonding experience incredible. The second reason is that you are amongst a bunch of other teenagers who LOVE the ‘Golden Age’ of music. In my own school, I was one of the one kids who really LOVED musicians like Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and the list goes on. It was so special to be around 39 other teenagers who had ‘old souls’, and a great respect for these legendary performers. Those things plus the small number of finalists really enables a student to create tight bonds with everybody there.
Trevor, Josie and Cassidy reuniting at the airport in New Orleans
On that note, I’d love to talk about my most recent reunion trip with a few of my Songbook friends; Cassidy Ewert, Michael Di Leo, and Trevor VanEaton. After the incredible week each one of us left Carmel, Indiana only to talk about when we’d be able to see each other again. With the help of our parents, the four of us rang in the New Year together in Louisiana.
"One of my most fond memories was when the four of us sat down by the water and listened to two young musicians play jazz...the day was beautiful, and the moment was special because it was with some of
my most treasured friends."
We started off the trip in Bossier City, LA, where Cassidy’s wonderful family let Michael and I stay in their home. The four of us traveled around town, going to coffee shops, antique stores, yummy food places, and just enjoyed the quality time together. What was so beautiful is that it seemed as if time had never stopped since leaving Songbook; we all picked up right where we had left off as if we had always been nearby. After a few days, our gang and Mama Tammy (Cassidy’s mom) drove us to NEW ORLEANS!
Left to right: Trevor VanEaton, Cassidy Ewert, Tammy, Josie Carrao, Michael Di Leo
This was my first time ever being in New Orleans and it was magical. We had a few days there walking around the French Quarter, visiting all different kinds of stores, listening to soft jazz, and dancing to big bands in the street. We went to the famous Café Du Monde to get some beignets; I had my first bowl of gumbo; we strolled the streets looking at paintings; and just took in the New Orleans atmosphere.
Cassidy and Josie eating beignets in the French Quarter
The crew grabbing lunch in the French Quarter
It is so hard to put into words all the beautiful architecture we saw, and all the memories we made. However, one of my most fond memories was when the four of us sat down by the water and listened to two young musicians play jazz. The sun was shining, the water sparkling, and I didn’t even have to wear a winter coat (I am from the Chicagoland area)! All jokes aside, the day was beautiful, and the moment was special because it was with some of my most treasured friends. We ended the trip back in Bossier city, ringing in the New Year with Chinese food and lots of laughter. It was a trip I will never forget and will hold forever in my heart. I had no idea that the Songbook Academy was going to gift me with some of my most treasured friends, and now family. It is so much more than an amazing professional opportunity; you really do meet people that will be in your life forever. To this day, our group and other ‘songbirds’ stay in touch by texting in group chats and having long facetime calls. If I had to pick a word to describe what I feel it would be grateful. It is so easy in this day and age to lose sight of what we have. I, like many others, forget just how many blessings I have. I forget to be grateful. The Songbook Academy has given me a more grateful heart. I know and am confident in the fact that these people, along with many others will be by my side throughout time.
With a thankful and GRATEFUL heart,
I hope everyone holds on to the people
they love just a little bit tighter this week
and applies to the Songbook Academy!