Passing it on: A student finds passion and philanthropy

  • Evri (left) with Instructor of Voice Jeffrey Norris (right).

  • Evri sings in a recent lesson with Jeffrey Norris.

  • Jeffrey Norris offers a suggestion during a lesson with Evri.

  • Jeffrey Norris offers feedback during a lesson with Evri.

  • Evri performs during the 2018 Interlochen Arts Camp Honors Vocal Recital.

Even before she learned to read, Arts Academy senior Evri knew her purpose and passion in life: She wanted to become a world-class singer. After pleading with her parents, five-year-old Evri made her first public appearance at a local karaoke night. Her natural talent and young age set her apart from all the adult participants.

The stage was now set for Evri. It wouldn’t be long before the five-year-old outgrew the world of karaoke and set her sights on attending a prestigious performing arts institution. By the time she was eight, she had starred in her first musical, Aladdin, which sparked her love of artistic performance.

While Evri pursued her dreams, she would soon discover the altruistic value of paying it forward through philanthropy.

The growth of Evri’s vocal skill was driven by passion, along with singing whenever and wherever she could. Evri’s ambition and vocal aptitude accelerated beyond the program her local Texas middle school could provide. Encouraged by her parents, Evri applied to Interlochen Arts Academy and was accepted for her freshman year, fulfilling her dream of studying at the world-class Arts Academy.

“The seniors were absolutely incredible,” Evri said. “They built my foundation. Every single one of the voice majors was extremely passionate and supportive. The community they built and the drive they had sparked my interest. I wanted to be like them.”

Now a senior herself, Evri is excited to help keep classical music alive through her academic and professional pursuits. She received her first formal voice lesson from voice instructor Jeff Norris, a veteran Interlochen instructor for 33 years. Norris especially values a person’s core qualities, which he believes have a great bearing on that person’s future success.

“When viewing Evri through those filters, I can attest to her talent and beautiful voice, along with her strong drive and desire to succeed. What makes Evri unique is her totally self-directed, selfless act of giving,” said Norris.

Inspired by her own scholarship awards and financial aid to attend Interlochen Arts Academy and Camp, Evri organized a benefit concert at home in Dallas to help offset her family's cost of attending Interlochen, future college visits, and college applications. Motivated by a speech from Interlochen President Trey Devey, Evri decided that 10% of the money she raised would go directly to CREATE AMAZING: The Campaign for Interlochen.

“I love seeing the donors’ names. I want that to be me one day, and I want to give another kid a chance,” said Evri.

Her $300 donation to the Interlochen Annual Fund will give other students the opportunity to access Interlochen.

Of the many personal and professional goals Evri has set for herself, she also envisions a future dedicated to philanthropy.

“I want this place to be known by everyone and funded to the point where thousands and thousands of kids can come here,” she said. “There are so many kids in this world that are so talented, and I want my generation to give back.”

When asked how it feels to be part of the CREATE AMAZING campaign, Evri said, “It’s really liberating to know that I’m part of something bigger. I don’t want to just be a kid that went to Interlochen. I want to be someone who will not only give back, but take in all the wonderful things that Interlochen has to offer and pass that on.”

Norris has taught many highly talented students throughout his career. Reflecting on his experience working with Evri, Norris said, “In Evri we are seeing someone who, at the center, was a thankful person who wanted to give back—even at this young age. In doing so, not thinking of her personal needs and desires, she became, in effect, a true giver. I could not be prouder of Evri and this wonderful offering of thanks that is a lesson for us all.”