If you are preparing for the audition, it would be wise to keep the following aspects carefully in mind.

There are seven categories or criteria used to evaluate vocal ability. These may vary by situation and contestant, but the beauty of this approach is that it can be applied to any style of music, in any live performance setting.

  • Vocal Diction & Intonation
  • Vocal Timbre & Gymnastics
  • Delivery & Connection
  • Stylization & Rhythmic Interpretation
  • Stage Presence & Audience Communication
  • Song Choice & Song Prep
  • Dynamics

Gordon Michaels

Gordon Michaels’ voice has been described as a deeply personal expression of his soul. He began singing at the age 3, performing in his home church in the Bronx, NY. From this experience in the Tiny Tots Gospel Choir, he developed a passion for performing. He was recognized as an exceptional talent and accepted to New York City’s Music & Arts High School, the school that the movie “FAME” was based on. He went on to earn a scholarship to the Boston Conservatory of Music for Opera but switched his focus to Musical Theater where he felt more at home and graduated with his BFA in Musical Theatre.
His vocal ability allows him to switch genres easily between Broadway show tunes, jazz, blues, pop, gospel and even country. A consummate entertainer, he knows how to engage any audience and leave them wanting more.

He has honed a reputation as a premiere vocalist. His talent led to performances around the world and with internationally known artists, such as, Patti Labelle, Jennifer Holiday, James Taylor, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Cissy Houston, Keith Lockhart, Peter Cetera, Deborah Cox, Tramaine & Edward Hawkins, Natalie Cole and more. His vocal gift led him to be a special guest soloist with the Harlem Gospel Choir, giving him the opportunity to perform at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II’s internationally televised Christmas Eve Musical Extravaganza.

He saw a need in the Boston community for gospel music to be heard outside of the black church and to spread God’s word through music to all. His response was to created and host the first Gospel Brunch at the original House of Blues which was in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA.

Today, Gordon resides in Boston where he continues to entertain audiences at private functions, charity events, upscale restaurants, jazz/blues clubs, cabaret rooms and piano bars. As a director, he has created 7 acclaimed cabaret shows performed nationally and internationally.

Keeping music alive in the Boston and New England area, as well as the Midwest and east coast is Mr. Michaels’ goal. His original cabaret series have had sold out performances at the Fox & Hound Wood Grille & Tavern in Quincy, MA, Club Café in their Napoleon & Moonshine Rooms, and Scullers jazz room in Boston, MA, The Front Porch Piano Bar in Ogunquit, ME, Firehouse Theater in Newburyport, MA, Danny’s Starlight Room, Don’t Tell Momma’s and the Triad Theater all in New York City.

In addition to performing, Mr. Michaels teaches master classes in performance and voice for new up-and-coming artists who want to become more effective performers. He also holds master classes for seasoned vocalists looking to tweak their abilities and put on their own Cabaret shows.

Monica Anderson Spencer

Soprano, has performed with such diverse organizations as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, the Opera Southwest, the Goldovsky Opera Institute Summer Workshop, the Wolf Trap Opera Training Program, the Nevilla Ottley Singers and with jazz greats Donald Byrd, Max Roach and Oscar Brown, Jr.  Since relocating to the New England area, she has performed with highly acclaimed local organizations including the SpeakEasy Stage Company, the Heritage Chorale, Enter Stage Left, and the Oscar Micheaux Theater Program.

A student of Metropolitan Opera soprano Mattiwilda Dobbs and renowned Metropolitan Opera vocal coach, Sylvia Olden Lee, she has appeared in the United States and abroad in the title role of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha, and has performed the role of Queen Isabella in Antônio Carlos Gomes’  Colombo, Miss Silverpeal in Mozart’s The Impresario, and Despina, in Cosi Fan Tutte, Mrs. Nolan in Menotti’s The Medium,Strawberry Woman in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, the trouser role of Roddie in Mark Fax’s A Christmas Miracle, Marian Anderson in Haywood Fennell’s Marian Anderson & Friends Project, Sara Breedlove/Madame CJ Walker and Ms. Thelma in Haywood Fennell’s The Harlem Renaissance Revisited With A Gospel Flavor and many others.

 She has appeared as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Takoma Park Symphony Orchestra and in recital at the U. S. State Department, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Danforth Museum, the Sumner Museum, the National Gallery of Art and several other venues in the Metropolitan area of Washington, D.C., and the Metrowest area of Boston, MA.

 Having earned  Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in Music Education (Vocal Performance) from Howard University in Washington, D.C., Ms. Spencer has served on the voice faculty of the Trinity College (Trinity Washington University), the Ottley Music Studio, the Sewell Conservatory of Music, and the Suitland High School Visual and Performing Arts Program where she established an opera workshop. 

Currently, Ms. Spencer is a director and vocal clinician with the Oscar Micheaux Family Theater Company and a voice teacher on the faculty of the Hopkinton Center for the Arts. She is a resident of Hopkinton, MA., and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the American Choral Directors Association, and the National Association for Music Educators.

Valerie Stephens

With a career spanning decades, Valerie Stephens has become a shining star in the world of performing arts. As an award-winning singer, storyteller, and performing artist, her talents know no bounds. Her mesmerizing voice, captivating storytelling, and undeniable stage presence will transport you to another world.

But Valerie is not just an exceptional artist; she is also a dedicated leader and philanthropist within her community. Her commitment to giving back and inspiring others is an inspiration to us all. Through her leadership and tireless efforts, she continues to make a positive impact on the lives of those around her.

Valerie Stephens is a woman of many talents who knows how to reinvent herself with the times while respecting the past.  

For more than 30 years, Bostonians have best known the multi-talented singer, storyteller, and actress for her use of arts to present strong images of African American women.  

Valerie creates most of her work through the Valerie Stephens Group & is a well-known attraction at local venues & festivals​

Awards &  Accredations

  • Brother Thomas Fellowship (2019)
  • Bridge Award in Arts (2019)
  • Boston City Council Resolution (2018)
  • New England Foundation for the Arts Creative City Grant (2017)
  • Get Konnected! Boston Legends & Pioneers Award (2016)
  • NAACP Image Award (2011)
  • Urban Music Award in Blues (2207)
  • Urban Music Award in Jazz Nominee (2011)
  • Citations of Appreciation from the Cities of  Boston, New Bedford & Springfield.


  • Dorchester Historical Society
  • Massachusetts Memories Roadshow Advisory Board
  • Massachusetts Studies Network
  • Boston Pan African Forum