Originally published in March/April 2015 edition of Omaha Magazine.
For 17-year-old Tehillah Alphonso, landing a spotlight on the big stage is quickly shifting from dream to reality.
A junior at Marian High School, Alphonso was recently selected to perform in an Honors Choir at Carnegie Hall after an auditioning process that involved thousands of candidates from all over the country.
“Carnegie Hall is a huge deal,” Alphonso says. “Hopefully what I learn there will help me move forward with what I hope to do in the future.”
Alphonso first started singing with her church as a 3-year-old, although she didn’t “really get serious” about vocal performance until her freshman year of high school. Currently, she lifts her voice in multiple organizations, including the A Capella Club at her school and the worship choir at her church, where her father is the pastor.
Alphonso’s dreams go far beyond Omaha, though.
“If I could, I would definitely want to be performing my own music for people, touring around the world,” she says. “I want to inspire people to take on challenges they wouldn’t think in a million years that they could do.”
Alphonso cites the a cappella cover band Pentatonix as a major influence for her own music. She and her choir opened for their concert in A Cappella Academy this summer. The group’s humility, Alphonso says, is what inspired her after meeting them.
“As a performer, musician, whatever you are, what you want your main career goal to be is to inspire other people,” she says. “It’s to make people forget about the problems they have, even if it’s just for a moment, or to relax and enjoy life, even if it’s just for a second.”
Looking to the future, Alphonso is both excited and nervous about her big performance in Carnegie Hall—but mostly excited about the opportunities it’ll surely foster.
“I’m hoping for a measure of growth,” Alphonso says. “I just want to keep improving and getting better. I don’t want to be stagnant in my skill; I want to always be heading upward.”
With such a big voice, it can be easy to forget that Alphonso is just beginning to look at college life, where she hopes her vocal talent will carry her to a career she loves.
There’s an old joke where a tourist on the streets of New York stops an earnest young man carrying a violin case.
“Excuse me,” the visitor begins, “but can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Practice,” begins the reply. “Practice!”
Alphonso is committed to the rigors of voice work and is now already looking beyond the famed concert space.
“I know Carnegie Hall is setting a platform for where I’ll step in the next few years,” Alphonso says. “I want to be the epitome of what I aspire to be.”