Murray’s ‘Idol’ journey boosts interest in MSA applications

Published 5:00 am Friday, March 20, 2009

Mississippi School of the Arts junior Jasmine Murray’s recentappearance in the Top 13 on hit music reality show “American Idol”not only catapulted her into the public eye, but was also a greatthing for MSA, officials said.

MSA Principal Jana Perry said school administrators had beenplanning for a slight drop in applications once the school was toldby state lawmakers to charge a room and board fee of $500 asemester. But “Jasmania” has set in all over the state, givingyoung people with the gift of voice something to shoot for.

“As far as vocal music is concerned, we don’t have a slot leftfor auditions,” Perry said. “And the numbers are growing.”

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Part of the students’ application process for the school is toshowcase their art, so vocal students hold auditions, which willfall this year on April 3-4. Perry said the deadline forapplication was March 2, but that it was extended because so manypeople had called with inquiries after the school received so muchmedia exposure.

“We were getting so many phone calls because of the interestwith Jasmine and all the news media on campus,” she said. “Wedidn’t want to turn students away who had never heard about itbefore this, so Dr. (Vicki) Lambert gave us permission to extendthe deadline.”

The school has seen not only a surge in applications for vocalarts, but also in the performing arts. Perry said so far theliterary and visual arts applications have stayed fairly even.

Perry said the school has never had to turn away students whomet the enrollment criteria, but that as the school name becomesmore recognizable and interest goes up statewide, there may come aday that waiting lists and cuts will be a part of the applicationprocess.

“I think it will remain that way this year,” she said. “But Isee it becoming a problem in the next two to three years. We’llhave a committee to look at what we will do in that case, a planthat will probably be looked at by the Department ofEducation.”

But another thing Murray has done is inspire her classmates. Bybecoming not only the face of MSA, but the face of Mississippi inthe eyes of “Idol” watchers, she has brought smiles to the faces offellow students.

“Morale is way up here,” Perry said. “They were talking rightbefore they left for spring break about how they wanted to throwher a coming-home party. They’re welcoming her back with open arms,because she’s a testament of why we’re here and doing what we’redoing, and that it does pay off.”