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HUNTINGTON — Zac Doss, a fourth-year Marshall University student majoring in voice and English, has received the Chip Hand Prize for Vocal Excellence at the “NextGen: The Voices of Tomorrow” competition sponsored by the American Pops Orchestra, according to a news release. The award carries with it a cash prize and possible performing opportunities.

“Winning the competition turned out to be a really nice surprise,” said Doss, who is from Scott Depot, West Virginia. “I’m really excited for the opportunities it may bring.”

He said that after the Marshall Chamber Choir trip to Europe was canceled and the tour with his band, Cypress, was postponed, the change to the online format for this competition, rather than a trip to Washington, D.C., seemed to be just another disappointment until he was announced as the winner.

The award was announced online after semifinal and final rounds April 24-25. Making the announcement and hosting the sessions was Luke Frazier, founder and conductor of the American Pops Orchestra, and, coincidentally, a West Virginia native from, according to his Facebook page, the Parkersburg area. Frazier attended Alderson Broaddus University, West Virginia University and Ohio University.

“I hope this accomplishment inspires every young student in West Virginia,” said Alexander Lee, assistant professor of voice at Marshall, who is Doss’ teacher. “Compared to his competitors in this competition, he started learning music quite late, but he worked hard for the last four years at Marshall University. If there was an opportunity, he did not hesitate to challenge himself to participate in it … he participated in numerous competitions, opera workshops, chamber choir, musical theater and concerts. Last year, he won in the Eastern National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition, and this year he won in the NextGen competition.

“I truly believe that students of West Virginia can have careers in the arts if they trust themselves and work hard, as Zac did. As his voice instructor, I cannot express enough how proud I am of Zac.”

“I can’t thank Dr. Alexander Lee enough for everything he has taught me and for always being the most supportive and hardworking teacher a person could ask for,” Doss said.

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