LAURINBURG – Nyjel Graham’s saxophone rendition of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” won him a bronze medal at a national NAACP youth competition, held earlier this month in Philadelphia.
The 37th Annual NAACP Afro-Academics, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics were held in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, where more than 1,000 youth from around the country showcased their skills on July 9.
Although Graham is a member of Scotland High School’s marching, jazz, and symphonic bands, is regularly featured at local events and has competed on the national stage, the rising senior had a hard time quelling his nerves.
“The competition was tough, there were a lot of great musicians around the country,” Graham said. “My nerves were a little shot waiting to perform.”
He chose to play the song, “Hey Jude” in an effort to showcase the full range of his abilities. He found that “Hey Jude” was a renowned song which also demonstrated everything he could do with a saxophone.
In the future, Graham envisions touring the world and ministering to people through music. He wants to share his story and how he found this gift at a very young age.
“You don’t have to come from a super-rich family and have 100 percent support to make it in a society that we have today,” said Graham.
Graham’s bronze medal in contemporary instrumental music came with an iPad and a laptop computer.
“If you win a medal or not, that really doesn’t tell you you’re good or not,” Graham advised hopeful ACT-SO contestants. “By you going up there and showing off your talent, then you obviously know you’re good.”
The competition was judged by music industry professionals, many of whom compose scores for the entertainment industry.
“It’s not just the competing, it’s the exposure to the people in the field,” said Scotland County ACT-SO advisor Rena McNeil.
“ACTO-SO is ultimately to inspire young people to pursue what their gift is,” McNeil. “It is there to stimulate young people in the areas for sciences, humanities, business, and performing and visual arts.”
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.