Nancy Easterbrook, owner of Sewing-Fun, awarded High School senior Griffen Collins the Calla Lily Creative Arts Scholarship. The scholarship is a $2,500 award in honor of Easterbrook’s friend, Roz Epstein.
The scholarship was created to continue Epstein’s memory and her love for music, the arts, and sharing them as a way to bring people together and uplift their spirits. The scholarship is awarded to a student who is passionate about music and/or the arts, and possesses the desire to share that love of either with others.
Collins’ love for music started at a young age. He started taking guitar lessons when he was 7 years old, and once he was able to play simple songs, he gained an interest in singing as well.
Collins joined the middle-school jazz band and chorus. Once he gained involved in the high-school music department, there was no turning back. Music had become his “thing.”
“I was overjoyed when I found out I had received the Calla Lily Scholarship! The goal of the Calla Lily Singers resonates with me: to uplift and bring joy to others. Whenever I perform, that’s my primary goal, and I was very happy to know I was being recognized for that,” said Collins. “I’m grateful for the scholarship, and I plan to use it for my college education.”
According to Easterbrook, Epstein was a beacon of light, happiness, inclusion, and love in everything she did, especially her music, which she made available to anyone and everyone.
Epstein’s focus was always on including everyone in the music and making a positive difference for them. Her favorites were sing-a-longs because everyone could join in. Epstein created joy around music so that anyone in the room could feel comfortable singing, tapping, or doing whatever spoke to their heart.
The Calla Lilys were a group of women that Epstein sang with and considered her sisters. They sang for the joy of singing, and were together for over 20 years, giving free concerts and being uplifted by friendship and song.
In Collins’ senior year, he was the music director of two a cappella groups. For one of them, the Jewel Tones, Collins is producing an EP that will be out this summer.
“I sing in the high-school mixed choir, and I have been in the jazz band for three years,” Collins said. “I’ve also had the amazing opportunity to sing in the regional and All-State choirs for most of my high school career, and I have composed three arrangements for the a cappella groups to sing.”
“Music means the world to me. It is my safe haven when I feel overwhelmed by other classes, and I feel it is the most meaningful and helpful thing I can do,” he added. “Not only can music be analyzed infinitely as a beautiful art form, but it can also uplift emotions and form bonds between people that could never dream of forming those bonds any other way. I especially felt this during my time entertaining the residents of an elderly-care facility in Salem; I was struck by the effect that music had on my audience. Music was something it seemed we all had in common, and it was an amazing feeling to share it.”
Collins will be attending Tufts University next fall, majoring in music and biological science. He said he is eager to get involved in the university’s department of music.
“I might also consider a minor in music engineering, including psychoacoustics and sound mixing,” he added.
He said he was unsure what he would focus on, but that it would definitely involve music composition and directing. Collins said he would also be happier as a researcher studying music psychology.
“Whatever it is, I know that music would be a major part of it,” he said.