UMass Student Finishes in Top 3 in National Vocal Competition

Taylor Mickens
Taylor Mickens

Taylor Mickens ‘21, a student in the vocal jazz program at UMass Amherst’s department of music and dance, recently placed in the top three finishers in BroadwayWorld’s national “Next On Stage” competition.


The online contest, which is modeled after such popular talent search competitions as “The Voice,” involved over 2000 participants from high schools and universities around the country. Each contestant submitted a video performance of a different song each week, which was then critiqued by a panel of renowned musical theater performers and directors. A select group was then chosen to move on to the next round. Micken’s five entries included songs from Broadway hits like “Grease” and “West Side Story” as well as the film soundtrack from “Saturday Night Fever.”

Mickens describes her experience in the competition as “exhilarating, because singing and telling stories is what I love to do…I live for this work.” Although she found waiting to hear if she had made the next round rather stressful, Mickens also feels that she gained valuable insights into what it takes to record multiple songs and also “how to trust your own artistry and voice while receiving and applying notes” from experts like the contest judges.

Mickens has been a member of the department’s vocal jazz program for the past two years, and has completed a minor in music and to accompany her BA in theater. Vocal jazz director Catherine Jensen-Hole commented, “It’s wonderful to see Taylor drawing from the experience she gained from her classical and jazz voice lessons and her participation in our ensemble classes. Coupled with her strong theatre background, Taylor has developed her own unique voice, and I’m sure that we are going to see great things from her in the future.”

To watch the season 2 finale of the “Next on Stage” competition, visit

The Finale includes competition host Richard Ridge and college judges Kate Rockwell, Lesli Margherita and Courtney Reed raving about Mickens's "intimate and genuine" performance of the Bee Gees' “How Deep is Your Love?”

The rest of Micken’s weekly entries can be viewed at