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UPDATED: Rancho Pico student to sing National Anthem Sunday on SCV Dodger Day

Camille Gray, 12, 'passed the audition'

Posted: April 16, 2009 6:53 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2009 11:00 a.m.

Camille Gray of Stevenson Ranch, representing the Santa Clarita Valley at SCV Dodger Day ceremonies Sunday at Dodger Stadium, will sing "The Star Spangled Banner."

 

Singer and actress Camille Gray, an A-student at Rancho Pico Junior High School, has just been booked by the Los Angeles Dodgers to sing the National Anthem to kick off SCV Dodger Day festivities at Dodger Stadium Sunday.

Gray, 12, a seventh-grader with an extensive background in school and community plays, musicals and other events, was chosen from a dozen auditions submitted on CD or DVD to the SCV Dodger Day selection committee.

The Stevenson Ranch resident was among the finalists the committee sent to Dodgers community relations officials, who made the final choice announced today.

"I'm very excited," Gray said Thursday night. "I was sitting at the dinner table when [the Dodgers] called, and my mom (Jamie) said, 'The phone's for you!' And I'm like, OK., and when they told me, I screamed and said 'Thank you!' and told my mom.

"I told a couple of people so far and one of my friends freaked out, she was so happy for me," Gray said. "Most of my friends were saying, 'Congratulations!' So, yes I'm excited.

"I've sung at other places before, but never the National Anthem, and never in front of an audience as big (as at Dodger Stadium)," she said.

The second-oldest of five siblings ranging in age from 14 to 6, Gray wants to be a singer and performer on Broadway someday, and she's already on her way. "I'm going to work hard to get there," she said.

Gray started singing in 2004, at age 7, as a member of a co-ed singing group called Pop Starz with other students at the Vibe music and dance studios in Santa Clarita.

Gray sang in the choir at Christ Lutheran Church (2004-2006) and at Stevenson Ranch Elementary (2005-2008). She took voice lessons at D.E.E. Studios in 2007, and is working now with voice coach Mandie Pinto.

During her elementary years, through last fall, Gray starred in school plays including "The Wizard of Oz" (as Glenda, the Good Witch), and had lead roles in "California Missions and More" and "Miracle in Philadelphia." She performed dance routines based on "Footloose," "The North Pole" and "Grease" in three different talent contests.

More recently, Gray starred as Rapunzel in the Canyon Theatre Guild's production of "Mother Goose Incorporated" and was a soloist in the CTG's "Junior Cabaret" production. She played key roles in a trio of D.E.E. Studio productions -- "Beauty and the Beast" (Mrs. Potts), "Cruisin' at Libby's Diner" (the lead) and "High School Musical" (as Sharpay).

She also had a vocal solo in "Make Room for Your Dreams," composed by Emmy- and Oscar-winning songwriter Molly-Ann Leiken.

Gray says her most important mentor, personally and professionally, is Linda Gray, her grandmother (not the actress), who has worked with her granddaughter since Camille was 6 on voice, piano and songwriting lessons.

"I really admire my grandma, and even though she's not as (well-known) as other singers, she's definitely a singer I admire because I've actually met her," Gray said.

Along with her grandmother, Gray's role models include Broadway singers such as Idina Menzel, the Tony-winning singer/actress who originated the roles of Maureen in "Rent" and "Elphaba" in "Wicked."

"'Wicked' is my favorite musical," said Gray, who saw Stephen Schwartz's award-winning play during its long run at the Pantages in Hollywood.

"I only saw it twice there, but I've listened to (the cast recording) a couple more times," she said.

Gray balances her career aspirations with studies at school, and extracurricular activities including Girl Scouts (a seven-year member), soccer, ice skating, swimming, and being a sister to her sibs.

"I also like to hang out with my friends, and to read," Gray said. "I like fiction, and novels that take a long time to read. I read 'Twilight' and that was really good. Right now, I'm reading 'The Hunger Games' by (Suzanne) Collins."

Not surprisingly, Gray enjoys writing, too. She won first place for creative writing twice and songwriting once in the "Reflections" program at Stevenson Ranch Elementary.

Science is one of Gray's favorite academic subjects; she took top honors in the 2005 and 2006 science fairs, and won the grand prize at the 2007 fair.

All things considered, Gray's peers consider her a leader. She was a Student Council rep from 2005-2007, and president in 2008 when she was in sixth grade. Now, at Ranch Pico, she's an Associated Student Body rep.

Gray sees singing the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium Sunday a big step in her budding career. "I think it's very important, considering I've never done anything like this, and considering what I'm going do with my career," she said. "I have to get used to (performing in front of large audiences) and get some experience."

Gray's parents and her sister and brothers plan to join her at the ballpark. Her mother, Jamie, whose full-time job is wrangling the family's five active youngsters, and father, Jeffrey, a glass contractor/installer for a Burbank-based company, are justifiably proud of Camille.

"We're just so impressed with her calm and her cool about the whole thing," her father said. "She has certainly worked hard to improve her voice, and always loved singing. I know she has worked hard for the recognition, and the opportunity to sing at the stadium. But she also knows she is lucky. Some of her friends and other people she knows who tried out didn't make it."

Gray's advice to other young people? "I would tell them to follow your dreams and make sure you don't give up," she said. "I've been doing it for a while, and after a while you pick it up. Make sure you keep practicing and just don't give up."










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