On the homepage:
Click on thethumbnail above to see larger photo.
Miss Louisiana Blair Abene and her Southeastern voice professor David Bernard go over the script for Abene’s appearance as emcee and guest artist at the Department of Music and Dramatic Arts annual Collage Concert for visiting high school honor bands.
As an 8-year-old girl diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome, Blair Abene never imagined how far her dreams of becoming a professional singer would take her. But the little girl who once sang in her living room is now singing on a much bigger stage -- the stage of Miss America.
Abene, a 22-year-old vocal music major from Hammond, now holds the title of Miss Louisiana and is looking forward to performing in the 2009 nationally-televised Miss America competition on The Learning Channel (TLC) Jan. 24.
During the competition, she will promote her platform T.A.R.T “Tourettes Awareness Reaching Teens” -- by sharing her personal success story and educating America’s youth on overcoming disorders.
Currently, more than 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder that causes involuntary and reoccurring physical and/or vocal symptoms, often called tics. After 14 years of overcoming her condition, “I aim to instill self confidence in those struggling with Tourettes and emphasize, through example, that it’s possible to be successful in life when faced with disabilities,” said Abene, who reigned as Miss Southeastern 2006.
“The reason I became involved in pageants in the first place was to get experience singing in front of an audience, and I’m finally getting to do what I’ve always dreamed,” said Abene.
"I've always said that all I want to do is walk across the Miss America stage, but now that I'm actually going to get that opportunity, I'm most excited about singing on that stage,” she said.
Abene said the most rewarding part of being Miss Louisiana has been the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of the people she meets on a daily basis by encouraging the importance of turning the negatives of life into positives.
“Whether those people are children in the Children’s Miracle Network, hospital, evacuees from a hurricane, or parents who have questions about their children battling Tourettes Syndrome, the chance to make a positive impact on the people of Louisiana is what most attracted me to the job of Miss Louisiana.”
After competing in Miss America, Abene plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance under the tutelage of Southeastern music professor David Bernard and later pursue her master’s degree in vocal performance.
“Education is extremely important for today’s youth,” Abene said. “No matter what you chose to do in life, education is essential to success. During my time at Southeastern, I have learned a tremendous amount academically and also learned a lot about who I am as a person.
“Intelligence and a strong sense of self are key to being a positive role model as Miss Louisiana, and the well-rounded education I have received at Southeastern has nurtured both of these qualities,” she added.
As she reigns as Miss Louisiana for the next few months and looks forward to performing on the Miss America stage, Abene hopes to encourage the future of today’s youth.
“Never lose sight of what you believe in or what you stand for, and never let anyone say you that you’re incapable of accomplishing your dreams.”