A local teen is busy rehearsing for a performance with jazz artists The Matt Baker Trio at the Metropolitan Room in New York City.
Fourteen-year-old Shawn Tellekamp, a ninth grader at Gelinas Junior High, will sing five solos in a showcase in June with The Matt Baker Trio – the same trio which will appear in an upcoming episode of the TV show "Smash" with Liza Minelli. Tellekamp said she is hoping the showcase opportunity will help further her career as an aspiring Broadway performer.
"It's an amazing feeling when I’m singing. I love it so much that I never want to stop," she said. "It’s fun learning new songs, learning more about singing. [It's] my life, basically."
An artistic kind of kid with a treble clef pendant around her neck and a rainbow of rubber bracelets running up one arm – among them one for anti-bullying awareness, one for autism awareness, and one from the show "The Little Mermaid" that says "Don't Be a Guppy" – Tellekamp said she practices around 15 hours a week for her performances and auditions.
Linda Ray, director of Huntington Cabaret and the producer of the showcase with The Matt Baker Trio, said Tellekamp is "way beyond her years" as a singer.
"She is a wonderful performer with a pretty voice, but I think she also knows how to include the audience and make the song personal," Ray said. "The lyrics are very important to her, and she wants to share it. She has a great passion for singing and for sharing."
Ray also lauded Tellekamp for helping raise money at an open mic fundraiser for a cabaret singer who had lost her Freeport home to Hurricane Sandy.
Tellekamp has also done performances with School of Rock in Port Jefferson Station, and has been taking lessons from East Setauket-based vocal coach Miriam Salerno for three years. Salerno predicts big things for her student.
"When I first heard Shawn sing, I was immediately impressed by her ability to sing songs with so much expression," Salerno said. "She can listen to a song and immediately grasp the essence of that song and reflect it in her voice. She also has a wonderful presence on stage when she sings."
Mother Jody Tellekamp has cautioned her daughter that singing is a tough field to break into – but has supported Shawn all along the way.
"Music has been extremely important in all aspects of her life," Jody Tellekamp said. "She’s been knocked down a couple of times. Broadway and entertainment is a difficult career choice."
But Shawn Tellekamp said she knows how to get through the hard times: she just sings some more.
"I’m extremely dedicated, but sometimes it’s really hard," she said. "I pick my feet up and I just go."