Meet the Judges and Presenters

NextGen National Finals

Meet the NextGen National 2021 Finals Judges

Dr. Lori Hicks
Professor at KSU and voice coach

Nova Payton
Recording Artist and Helen Hayes Award Winner

Neyla Pekarek
Solo Recording Artist, formerly of The Lumineers

Eric Rosen
Director, Writer, and Producer

Sam Simahk
Broadway Star and leading man ofMy Fair Lady at Lincoln Center

Meet the NextGen National 2021 Masterclass Presenters

APO offers handcrafted, private masterclasses to each of our Finalists to teach them not only about how to improve as a performer, but also about other components of being a professional artist. These masterclasses range from casting and audition tips to working in the recording industry, allowing students to learn from some Broadway’s best performers.

Professional Auditions, Casting, and Rehearsal

Mary Michael Patterson
Director, choreographer and performer
Christine Daaé in
Phantom of the Opera

Adam Hyndman
Broadway and NBC’s The Sing Off

Broadway Icons Dispensing Wisdom

Baayork Lee
 Broadway legend & activist
Originated Connie in
A Chorus Line

Danny Burstein
Broadway legend & seven-time Tony nominee

Recorded Artist Industry

Erik Altemus
Multidisciplinary artist and Broadway Actor
Debut in 2013 revival of Pippin

Morgan James
 Broadway veteran, recording artist
Performer with
Postmodern Jukebox

Regional Theatre to Broadway

Sean Thompson
Broadway actor and singer
Originated Raoul in
Love Never Dies

Vishal Vaidya
Broadway performer
Nationally-recognized voice instructor

NextGen National Semi-Finals

Carmen Ruby Floyd

CARMEN RUBY FLOYD is a commercial, TV, and stage actor who grew up with God, love, joy and music.
She has won numerous awards, including an AUDELCO for Best Cast in a Musical for the show, Crowns at Second Stage and the coveted Broadway Gypsy Robe – which is awarded to the Ensemble member with the most Broadway shows under their belt. Her performances on broad always include After Midnight, and Hello Dolly!  Last seen on Broadway in Hello Dolly! Ms Floyd had the honor of understudying the role of Dolly Levi played by the legends Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy and Bette Midler. She was first African American Dolly on Broadway since the iconic Pearl Bailey.

Proudly she has performed several times, for former President Obama and Mrs. Obama, as well as former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A few other favorites are Whoopi Goldberg, Natalie Cole, Bryan Cranston, Diana Ross, Tom Hanks, Oprah, Jimmy Fallon, Janet Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Renee Fleming, Jim Carrey and the Aretha Franklin.

She's had the pleasure to work with numerous celebrities such as Tina Fey, Gladys Knight, Toni Braxton, Babyface, Fantasia, Hugh Jackman, and mentor Vanessa Williams, whom she now tours with around the world.

Along with her stage work, Ms. Floyd has been seen in various commercials and heard in a slew of voice-overs.  Some of her television roles include appearances on Orange is the New Black, Person of Interest, The Super Bowl XLVII, The Tony Awards, One Life to Live, Law & Order: SVU, and The Traveler.

Training: Niagara University

For more information, please visit:
For more information, please visit:
Instagram: @morganajames

Morgan James

MORGAN JAMES is a classically trained vocalist, Broadway veteran and recording artist.Most recently, Ms. James premiered a song cycle for voice and orchestra entitled “Song Of The River”, written for her by frequent collaborator and conductor Teddy Abrams, with the Louisville Orchestra.In concert, Ms. James has appeared with the New Zealand Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, the Malaysian Philharmonic, Britt Festival, Breckinridge Music Festival, Utah Symphony and Colorado Symphony performing her solo Bernstein show. Morgan has had the honor of being in the Bernstein MASS four times: Ravinia Music festival, Louisville Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In addition to above, Morgan has made extensive symphony pops appearances throughout the US and Canada, including the American Pops Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Calgary Philharmonic, and many more.On Broadway, Morgan appeared in the Original Broadway Casts of Motown: The Musical, Godspell, Wonderland and The Addams Family, and Kristin Chenoweth’s For The Girls.As a recording artist, Ms. James has released six albums of music, including her newest, Memphis Magnetic and her latest holiday EP Blue Christmas. Her videos on with Postmodern Jukebox and her own YouTube channel have garnered over 200 million views.  Training: The Juilliard School.

For more information, please visit:
Instagram: @morganajames

Rayshun Lamarr

RAYSHUN LAMARR is an Actor, Singer and Song Writer who was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He delivers a smooth and mature sound influenced by Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Ella Fitzgerald, and Otis Redding.

Rayshun has won Best Male Entertainer and Most Outstanding Vocalist in Missouri’s National Singing Competition.

He toured with the Legendary Stephanie Mills, international award-winning band “SoundConnection” and collaborations with Lucy Black Entertainment. Rayshun has also landed leading roles in “Fool in Love” the story of Frankie Lymon, “Freedom’s Song”, “Samson the Musical”, “The Wiz”, “Shake Loose”, “Blackberry Daze”, “Ragtime”, and the soon to hit Broadway “Gun and Powder”.

In 2018, he made his television debut on the Emmy Award-winning NBC show “The Voice.” He performed the half-time shows for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals, North Carolina Panthers vs Tennessee Titans, the National Anthem for NBA’s Washington Wizards vs Houston Rockets. He also had performances in the National Cherry Blossom Parade, First Baptist Church Christmas Special, WBAL-TV Season to Celebrate, and the Global Citizen Awards.

He has released the singles “The Legacy Begins” and “Time 4 Change,” which has reached #8 on the World Music chart. He is now preparing to release his debut album titled “Can’t Hold Back.” The album is comprised of Soul, Pop and R&B.

Training: Duke Ellington School of the Arts. University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

For more information, please visit:
Instagram: @morganajames

Paul Tetreault

PAUL TETREAULT has been director of Ford’s Theatre since 2004.

Since joining Ford’s, Tetreault has focused on enhancing the quality of the institution’s artistic programming while expanding its mission to include a stronger focus on education.

Prior to his arrival at Ford’s, Tetreault served as Managing Director of the Alley Theatre for 10 years, where he produced more than 100 productions and worked with talented artists such as Edward Albee, Tony Kushner, Trevor Nunn, Nicky Silver, Frank Wildhorn and August Wilson, among others. He has held senior management positions with Crossroads Theatre Company, New Jersey; Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California; and Circle Repertory Company, New York City. He also served as director of finance at Madison Square Garden and as a vice president with C.W. Shaver and Company, Inc., a New York management and fundraising consulting firm.

He has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and has taught and guest lectured at Brooklyn College, Columbia University, New York University, the University of Houston and Rice University.
He is a graduate of Emerson College and received his MFA from the City University of New York-Brooklyn College. Tetreault serves on the Board of the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID).

A Message from The APO

The American Pops Orchestra has made it a priority to not only maintain Pre-COVID content in a virtual form, but also create new content to keep our audience engaged and our musicians employed.  As an organization that strives to break the mold of concerts, we are using COVID-19 to reimagine our normal operations.  Since March we have streamed two full original concerts, created solo performances by instrumentalist and vocalists, rethought our Music and Mindfulness series as a more often and virtual event, and partnered with organizations across the country in our virtual trivia series.  

In addition, APO has held multiple in-person socially distanced outdoor Porch Concerts that provide our audience with the opportunity to safely see live art despite the current situation around us.  Throughout the pandemic, APO has employed hundreds of musicians and artists and in a time when many other organizations couldn’t. In the words of Maestro Luke Frazier, “we never stopped.”

Moving forward, APO is proud to present our NextGen National vocal competition which will include students from across the country competing virtually for the chance to win a monetary prize and the opportunity to perform in a future APO MainStage Show. This will include a virtual audition and semi-finals with a live (COVID permitting) finals in Spring of 2021.  APO has also filmed multiple productions that will be broadcast nationally on PBS.  APO has been grateful to keep creating and making music despite the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will keep working to bring you, our valued audience, original and unique content.

To support APO as we keep moving forward you can click here, so that we can continue to employ more artists and musicians.  If you have any questions about what APO has been doing during the pandemic, please email Thank you and stay safe.