Written by Emilie Kefalas
SCAD students and the extended Savannah community will be able to step into the past tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. when four SCAD buildings transform into performance centers for a first of its kind musical experience, Savannah Songs.
The afternoon-long event includes immersive live performances documenting Savannah’s history through song. Each of the four buildings, including the Gryphon tea room, Art’s cafe, Morris Hall and Poetter Hall, has been decorated and themed to a specific era, from the Civil War through the 1940s.
All of the performers in these scenes are current SCAD students or SCAD alumni who have returned to campus to showcase and share their talent with the community. Three notable performing arts alumni, Kiandra Richardson, Christian Magby and George Lovett, were personally contacted by SCAD to participate in Savannah Songs.
“I got a call from SCAD asking if I could participate in this exciting event,” Richardson said. “I love Whitney Houston, and am playing her in ‘Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story,’ which is about to go on national tour, so I was totally down!” said Richardson.
Richardson will be singing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” at Art’s as part of the 1980s performance.
Lovett will be accompanying her at Art’s performing “Lean on Me.”
“It’s special to be singing in Savannah again with students who share a love for music and theater,” said Lovett about returning to his alma mater to perform.
Magby will be in Poetter Hall emceeing at the “WTOC live radio broadcast” taking place during Poetter Hall’s 1940s style USO dance. He will be singing the classic love song “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
To Magby, seeing SCAD bring students back to perform, “meant that the university believed in their talents, and even more, trusted their professionalism.”
Each of the alums took time out of their busy schedules, going on tour, recording albums, singles, rehearsing in plays and blockbuster movies to be apart of SCAD’s celebration of Georgia Day.
And in true performing arts spirit they have been extensively preparing for their roles.
“It’s important to take the time to do the research on characters and understand the backstory,” said Richardson.
“I watch so many YouTube videos of her, keeping her [Houston’s] personality fresh in my mind. I watch her speaking and singing mannerisms and listen for the tones in her voice. Most importantly, I try to stay true to who she was as an individual.”
As for advice for SCAD students pursuing careers in the entertainment industry, they had plenty to say.
“I would advise them to be students of their craft. Study the greats. I stay up hours and hours watching performances and listening to amazing music. When you fill your mind with greatness, eventually you will become great,” said Lovett.
Lovett auditioned with Richardson on American and was chosen to compete in Season 13. Lovett is currently working on his own album that will be released this summer.
Magby is serving as the music production assistant for “Pitch Perfect 3,” music director for a new musical called “Young, Gifted, and Blue,” and has a lead role in a new play called “Ravished.”
“I always say that life is a puzzle. Each piece is designed to fit in a specific place. It may take a while to figure out exactly where you go, but you have to keep looking for it. You can’t get distracted, or doubt yourself, because you are the only puzzle piece there is that is designed like you,” said Magby
“Always stay focused on your vision, and always put in the work! Talent can only take you so far, your work is what sustains you,” said Richardson, who is planning to record new music now and during her “Born For This,” tour.
Savannah Songs with be taking place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10. For more information visit scad.edu.