DC-CAP gala to showcase three Wilson finalists

The DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) selects 10 students from around DCPS each year to be a DC Capital Star finalist based on their vocal, instrumental, or dance talent. This year, freshman Jillian Upshaw, junior Maya Eng-Garcia, and senior Julia Ravenscroft made it through the initial judging and public voting process to become DC Capital Star finalists. On April 10, Eng-Garcia, Ravenscroft, and Upshaw will have the opportunity to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts annual gala. This year, the theme is the British Invasion. The Beacon sat down with Upshaw and Eng-Garcia to talk about their thoughts on being chosen as DC Capital Stars.

Freshman Jillian Upshaw has been a musician since the age of three. She started out playing the guitar, then switched to drumming, which is her current passion. At Wilson, Upshaw participates in the jazz band and the drum line.

To raise awareness during the semifinalist stage, in which the general public votes for the contestants by ranking them on a one-to-five-star scale, Upshaw used social media to let friends and family know about the competition. However, Upshaw did not feel like she was directly competing with the other students for votes. “I wasn’t really in competition, it was just ‘vote for us and we’ll see where it goes,’” she explained.

During her audition, Upshaw played the song “Boogie Oogie Oogie.” For her performance at the Kennedy Center, she will be performing “Carried Away” by H.E.R. during the gala.

Upshaw plans on studying music in college, and hopes to eventually play the drums professionally. “My ultimate dream is to travel around the world, and play in a bunch of stadiums,” Upshaw explained.

“It’s really an honor to be picked to perform at the Kennedy Center… I just want to say thank you,” Upshaw added.

“It was pretty exciting, I didn’t think I’d make it,” said junior Maya Eng-Garcia as she found out she became a finalist for DC-CAP. Eng-Garcia has been singing ever since she could remember. At Wilson, Eng-Garcia participates in the Wilson Choir and Wilson theatre.

For her audition piece, Eng-Garcia sang “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles. “I really connected with my song, and felt it would be good to audition,” said Eng-Garcia. She explained that the process was super long but she had a feeling that the end result would be worth it.

Eng-Garcia’s parents played a crucial role in raising awareness during the semifinalist stage, as they sent her audition video to the people they work with. “That way it reached a lot of adults who would actually be willing to go through the whole process of signing up and voting,” Eng-Garcia said.

For the upcoming performance at the Kennedy Center, the finalists practice every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. until the day of the performance. “I’m ready to see all I will have learned from this experience come out in my performance,” Eng-Garcia said.