Review: “Tulsa Sings! American Jukebox”

On April 8, the Saturday before Easter, the Tulsa Community College Signature Symphony held the concert “Tulsa Sings! American Jukebox” at the Performing Arts Center for Education at the Southeast Campus. The concert included performances by the seven finalists from the Tulsa Sings!competition and several other vocalists. The Signature Symphony played several instrumental medleys as well as accompaniment for the singers.

The Tulsa Sings finalists are (l-r) Ashton Jones, Trent Taber, Olivia Fu, and (clockwise from bottom left) Andrea Bar, Rachel Miller, Michelle Eiler, and Brock Ryne. (Photo courtesy of Signature Symphony website)

After a minor microphone mishap, the show got started. And boy, did Tulsa sing! Once Concertmaster Maureen O’Boyle took her seat with the other violin players, Signature Symphony conductor Scott Seaton ran onstage wearing a white cape, red scarf, Elvis wig, and glasses for the first number, entitled “A Tribute to the King (The Music of Elvis Presley).” He was greeted with a roar of applause and laughter. Seaton struck a pose, then stepped up to the conductor’s podium and began leading an instrumental, jazzy rendition of “Hound Dog.” The following Elvis medley included several tunes, alternating between ones with fast and slower tempos. Seaton’s dancelike conducting changed based on the song.

For the slow ballads, the conductor stood in one place and waved his arms gracefully; for the more upbeat songs, he moved around the podium and his gestures were sharper. Seaton’s unique, dancelike conducting went perfectly with the big-band style, jazzy, and booming tunes. And his costume was just the cherry on top!

After the first song, which ended in roaring applause, host and emcee Scott Coulter took the stage, and welcomed everyone to the fifth anniversary of Tulsa Sings!He gave some background on the competition and explained how the winners would be chosen. We do live in a democracy, after all, so not only did the three guest judges (LeAnne Taylor, Dr. Kim Childs, and Shari Lewis) pick a winner, but the audience was also invited to participate during the intermission by voting for its favorite via a ballot included with the event’s programs. The votes were then counted, and the Judges’ Pick and the Audience Favorite were announced at the end of the concert.

Tall, thin, Brock Ryne came onstage first and sang “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” With his hair slicked back and his sweet, crooning voice, this multi-talented musician and vocalist had a Sinatra-like stage presence.He was a bit overpowered by the background music at some points, but overall sang excellently, and even hit some high notes at the end of the song.

Michelle Eiler came onstage next in a long, deep blue ballgown with some sparkles at the waist. This Canadian American singer and pianist moved to Tulsa in 2016 with her composer husband and their three children and is a voice instructor at Oral Roberts University. She sang “I Have Dreamed” from the musical “The King and I” with elegance and star quality.

The next performer, Trent Taber, is a former Jenks football coach and music and special education teacher. He and his wife recently moved to New York City to pursue their performing arts careers. He performed Lionel Richie’s “Lady,” another sweet, slow ballad.

After those first slow, longing love songs, the performers sped it up! The symphony began playing the introduction to “Fame,” the song from the former movie, TV show, and Broadway musical of the same name, and seventh grader Olivia Fu ran onto the stage to perform her very fitting song. Coulter provided the background vocals, and she sang her heart out. This girl is going places! Fu has been in several theater productions before, and it was evident by how comfortable she was onstage. She moved around, kept time by tapping her hand against her leg, and even sat on the conductor’s podium for a bit. She had a very loud and filling voice, and boy, can that girl hold a note! After her song, Fu fairly skipped off stage.

Following Fu was Rachel Miller. Once she was in place onstage, the symphony started to play. Coulter accompanied with the background vocals as Miller, a homeschooling mom who recently had a baby, hit the notes in “Total Eclipse of the Heart” perfectly. She wore a long purple dress that flared out at the bottom with her hair in a natural, simple bun. Her voice was loud and rough at some points in the song, and soft and piercing at others.

After Miller, Andrea Bar performed “Skyfall” from the James Bond film. She had a very loud cheering section, and wore a one-sleeved, teal and black sparkly floor-length dress. She stood in place at the microphone, a serious femme fatale, gestured with her arms, and sang with such power.

Then came Ashton Jones, an educator and musician of many talents and instruments, wearing a snazzy suit. He sang “The Impossible Dream.” His voice rose above the symphony in time with the ­­­­­march-like tune.

For the finale of the first act, all seven finalists performed a group medley from the musical “Hair” that got the audience clapping along with them.

At intermission, between talking to friends and visiting in the lobby area, the audience members marked and turned in their ballots for their choices for Audience Favorite.

The second act started with a medley from “Chicago,” the revival of the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Seaton was once again at his best conducting the rolling along, jazzy medley. His distinct personality shone through in his gestures.

And, as no compendium of American music would be complete without a song from Frank Sinatra, emcee Scott Coulter gave a wonderful performance of “That’s Life.”

Then he sang one of his favorite songs, “I Will Survive,” which was the first and last song to ever win a Grammy for Best Disco Song, as the disco craze only lasted for about five years. Coulter told the audience how he would sing it on the playground for his friends as a child. He definitely had fun performing it for a more willing audience this time around! His voice wove in and out of the music with the swirling melody.

Jason Graae performed several songs at the “Tulsa Sings! American Jukebox” concert. (Photo courtesy of

Next up, Jason Graae, a native Tulsan who has performed in many on- and off-Broadway musicals, came onstage and cracked a few jokes and touted his local high school (Edison), before performing the song “Popular” from the musical “Wicked.” He really hammed it up as he told conductor Scott Seaton, “Don’t worry, I’ll make you popular.” He took the time to tell a few more jokes (and boost his ego) before launching into that anthem for the ages, “I Am What I Am.” It started out slow, then became a bit faster and bouncy. Graae gave a performance that was both soft and fierce.

Then Coulter came back onstage, and before naming the winner of the Tulsa Sings! competition, he encouraged the audience members to say yes to something that scares them this year and take a leap of faith, just as all the folks who participated in Tulsa Sings! did. Then he opened the envelopes and announced Andrea Bar as the winner of both the Judges’ Favorite and the Audience Favorite awards! It was a history-making win, as no other time in the five-year history of Tulsa Sings! has the same person won both awards. After much applause, all the finalists performed “The Best of Times” along with Coulter and Graae.

This was the first concert since the Signature Symphony hired Katie Sawicki as the director of development and operations. Sawicki has experience organizing and promoting community events, as she was previously the executive director of This Machine: Tulsa Bike Share. Sawicki invited the community to experience the “artistry of live music” with Signature Symphony.

Katie Sawicki is the new director of Operations and Management for the Signature Symphony at TCC. (Photo courtesy of Signature Symphony)

 Upcoming Signature Symphony Concert Dates:

July 3, 2023 – 4th on the 3rd

Sept. 30, 2023 – Bluegrass to Bohemia

Dec. 15 and 16, 2023 – Christmas in Tulsa

Jan. 27, 2024 – Inspirations

Mar. 2, 2024 – Inevitable Beethoven: The Struggle for Creation

Apr. 6, 2024 – Tulsa Sings! Best of Broadway

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage of the TCC VanTrease PACE, 10300 E. 81st St.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to

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