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The Kennedy Center

Winners of the VSA International Young Soloists Competition

2003 Award Recipients

Laura Dodd, vocalist

Picture of Laura Dodd Laura Dodd, is a 23-year-old vocalist, model, and actress from Gadsden, Alabama, who began performing publicly at the age of 10. She has been featured in leading and supporting roles in local theater productions of Annie, Oliver, Oklahoma, Leader of the Pack, and Little Shop of Horrors. Ms. Dodd has co-hosted a local Birmingham, Alabama television show, as well as appeared in several television and radio commercials. Her country single, Wow, has been moving up Nashville's Music Row country breakout chart. Ms. Dodd has been named Entertainer of the Year at the American Talent Showcase, Top Female Singer at the Mike Beatty Expo, and Best Actress at the International Model and Talent Association competition. She was diagnosed with CIDP (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy), a neurological disorder, at the age of 12.

Janet Ross, pianist

Picture of Patrick Henry Hughes Janet Ellen Ross, a 22-year-old pianist from Amherst, Massachusetts, is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Piano Performance at the Indiana University School of Music where she studies with Professor Karen Shaw. In May 2002, Ms. Ross graduated with academic honors from the same institution, receiving two Bachelor's degrees with majors in piano performance, flute performance, and music pedagogy for children. Her musical honors include the Grand Prize in the Eastman School of Music's 1997 Young Artists Competition and first prizes in two National Federation of Music Clubs competitions and several concerto competitions in New York and New England. While at Indiana University, she has been awarded several scholarship awards and was named the 2001-2002 Chancellor's Scholar from the School of Music. Congenital cataracts, secondary glaucoma, and persistent corneal abrasions have left Ms. Ross legally blind with corrected vision of 20/200.

Sara Bentes, vocalist

Picture of Sara Bentes Sara Bentes is a 21-year-old vocalist from Volta Redonda, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who showed her interest and talent in the arts at an early age. She joined her school choir and began her musical life by performing at various festivals - winning more than five prizes of excellence for her voice. Most recently, Ms. Bentes performed at the MPB Festival (sponsored by Brazilian Popular Music radio) and also became a member of the official choir of Volta Redonda. She enjoys performing both Brazilian and international songs, and is currently studying communications at the University, where she writes for the university newspaper, Volta Cultural. She also takes courses in dance and gymnastics and enjoys reading, writing, drawing, and composing music. Ms. Bentes, who is blind, has been very active in national VSA arts do Brasil festivals and concerts.

Nathan Gerardo Meaney Murillo, flautist

Picture of Nathan Gerardo Meaney Murillo Nathan Gerardo Meaney Murillo, born in Mexico City, is a 23-year-old flautist. He began his studies in music at the Escuela de Iniciación Artística N°1 of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. In 1993, he began studying the flute at the Escuela Superior de Música under the direction of Raúl Falco and later with Dr. Asako Arai, with whom Mr. Meaney continues to study today. He began his career as a concert flautist in 1997 and has continued to perform in numerous recitals and competitions. In 1998, he was named director, arranger and flute accompanist of the choir of the Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, as well as of the choir of the Veteranos y Jubilados de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación. Mr. Meaney, who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, has performed with a variety of renowned orchestras throughout Mexico in some of the country's major concert halls. Mr. Meaney will also be performing at the annual Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation benefit, Fine Wine, Strong Bones, on May 22nd at the National Press Club. For more information, contact the OI Foundation at