South musician earns national recognition

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 16, 2013

 Grosse Pointe South High School senior Charles Paul earned accolades as a National YoungArts Foundation award winner.

Grosse Pointe South High School senior Charles Paul earned accolades as a National YoungArts Foundation award winner.

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Charles Paul believes music speaks to people: a common language that brings them together beyond anything that divides them.

Through the strings of his double bass, the Grosse Pointe South senior enjoys taking part in the musical community, creating that bonding language that everyone can understand and enjoy.

“I feel that art, even more than just music, art is important in our development as human beings and our experience,” Paul said. 

With music, a person’s color or religion doesn’t matter, he said, adding that “all that matters is our shared affinity to music.

“It’s about bringing people together across these boundaries,” he said.

The young musician is well on his way to achieving his dreams and adding to the musical repertoire for the world to hear. Paul is one of the relatively limited number of students in the nation to be honored by the National YoungArts Foundation as a Merit Winner. 

Paul was among about 10,000 applicants for one of the foundation’s awards. Out of those 10,000 applicants, fewer than 700 were honored.

He said he was happy with the award and to be a part of the YoungArts organization.

“This YoungArts award is a big deal,”  Grosse Pointe South Orch-estra Director James Gross said.

“This is a high, national honor,” Gross said in an email.

The organization recognizes students in nine artistic genres, including dance, music, theater and writing. Paul and other performance applicants submitted audition videos as part of the application process.

“This year’s extremely talented students represent a diverse group whom we consider to be the most promising young artists in America today,” YoungArts foundation Executive Director Paul T. Lehr stated in a press release. “The quality of this year’s winners is a testament to the strength of our expanding program.”

Paul has set his sights on an even higher level of award through the competition next year. He will still qualify to compete because he will be 18 at the time.

Paul has been studying instrumental music since he was 9 years old. He has studied various instruments, including tuba and clarinet.

As for the double bass, Paul credits Gross for introducing him to the instrument during his freshman year of high school. He has now devoted his talent to the large, stringed instrument.

“He’s been a great help to me,” Paul said of Gross. “Back in ninth grade, he is the one who introduced me to the instrument.”

Paul also takes private lessons.

“The best part that I see about playing is getting to play some of the amazing music that has shaped part of our history,” he said.

He said he enjoys collaborating with his peers and performing solo.

“It’s a big part of me and a big part of what I do with my life,” Paul said.

“Even just listening to a great orchestra is a great experience, and some would say better than playing,” he said.

With a dream to pursue a career in music, Paul is well on his way toward his plans by making it to the final round of auditions to study music at multiple well-regarded schools, including his top choices of Curtis Institute of Music and Rice University.

“Each one of these schools would be great to go to,” he said of the schools to which he is seeking admission.

As for Paul’s support system, Paul gives his parents a lot of credit for helping him succeed.

“To say that they’ve been a great help to me is an understatement,” he said of his parents. “I don’t know what I would do these days without their support.”