Student Life

Music Performance Senior Wins Second in National Contest

By CSU Media | July 21, 2018
Jairus McClanahan

By the time Jairus McClanahan captured second place in the nation at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Conference in Las Vegas in late June, he had won at the state level, regional level, made it through the video submission round and through the live semifinal round.

If that isn’t impressive enough, singers must compete with a repertoire of four songs in different styles. At each level, judges tell the students what to perfect and improve. McClanahan is the first Charleston Southern student to advance to the final round at the NATS competition.

McClanahan sang “Wait for It” from the musical “Hamilton,” in the final round of competition. McClanahan said, “I’ve been competing for three years, but this was my first time getting this far. My goal was to make it through the semifinal round.” Finishing second and receiving a cash prize were just a bonus.

McClanahan is a senior majoring in music performance. When the Greenville native arrived at CSU, he was planning to major in biochemistry. A hard year in biochemistry led him to do some soul searching. “I felt like God called me to do music,” he said, “and as soon as I changed majors, doors started opening.”

McClanahan studies voice with Dr. Jennifer Luiken, professor of music, and is a regular performer at CSU and in the Charleston region. “The thing that stands out about Jairus’s voice is its versatility in a variety of styles,” said Luiken. “He has been gifted with many vocal colors, and he is learning how to best utilize them to his advantage. He also tends to be fearless about expression in performance and is focused on telling the story of the songs he performs. I’ve rarely seen him perform when he hasn’t displayed something new or more expressive than the time before. He’s just fun to watch!”

He is a member of the CSU Concert Singers and Singing Buccaneers choral ensembles and has been featured in Lyric Theatre productions on campus. He is slated to play the role of Pepper in “Mamma Mia” and will also be in “Beauty and the Beast” with Charleston Stage this year. On July 4th, he sang with the North Charleston Pops at Riverfront Park in front of 18,000 people. He also sings at weddings with the Emerald Empire Band.

McClanahan’s goal is to make it to Broadway. “The NATS competition gives me exposure and something good to put on my resume,” he said. McClanahan credits the Horton School of Music with his success. “I always tell people I can sing anything if you give me the sheet music – all because of the Horton School of Music and Dr. Luiken.” He is considering attending graduate school in New York City.

“I thank God for the opportunity to share my gift with the world,” said McClanahan. “I hope I can continue to pursue what I believe He’s called me to do,” he said.

The Horton School of Music at Charleston Southern University prepares students for careers as professional musicians, educators, music therapists and worship leaders, and furthers the performing arts in the Charleston region and beyond. To learn more about HSM, visit


Picture courtesy of NATS. Winners of the Upper College Music Theater Men competition: Corbin Eakes, Jalen Smith, Jairus McClanahan and Luke Holt.

Related Stories

McKinion What do you treasure?

What do you treasure?

To fully embrace the most important week of the year for Christians, internation...

| READ MORE: What do you treasure?
BUCSAFE and CSU logos COVID-19 Update from the President

COVID-19 Update from the President

On Monday, we announced our intent to resume a normal collegiate experience thi...

| READ MORE: COVID-19 Update from the President