Matt Gaines Advances to Minnesota Sings 2021 Finals

Music major also competed in Minnesota Sings 2020

Update on Matt Gaines:

Jennifer Parker, music faculty at Inver Hills, reported that Matt Gaines, one of her music students, has once again advanced to the final round of the Minnesota Sings Vocal Competition.

What is Minnesota Sings?¹

Minnesota Sings is a competition between cities throughout our great state—designed for amateur singers. Vocalists compete for the honor of representing their city and for the opportunity to win some wonderful prizes.

There are two divisions: 13 to 20-year-olds and 21 and older. Vocalists have to sing to a backing track which cannot exceed five minutes. The song has to be memorized, and the words need to be family-friendly.

The best part is you can sing any type of music. At Minnesota Sings, we hear everything:

  • Broadway
  • Rock n’ Roll
  • Country
  • Country Rock
  • Jazz
  • Swing
  • Blues
  • Contemporary Christian
  • Arias
  • Operas
  • And much more

In Minnesota Sings Vocal Competition 2020, Matt sang “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and The Beast, the 1994 Broadway adaptation. Minnesota Sings takes place Saturday, October 16, and Sunday, October 17, 2021, at the Courtyard Marriott in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Learn more by visiting:

Minnesota Sings: HOME
Minnesota Sings on Facebook

This IHN story was originally published December 6, 2020.

Matthew Gaines, 21, is earning his Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.) in Music at Inver Hills Community College. Matt is on track to graduate from Inver Hills in spring 2022. His goal after graduation is transferring to St. Cloud State University to major in Music and Meteorology.

“I have two current career paths, depending on how far I wish to pursue each one,” Matt said. “Those paths would be in the realm of music production/preforming, or working for the National Weather Service.”

Matt recently competed in Minnesota Sings 2020 in the 21 and Older Division. He sang “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and The Beast, the 1994 Broadway adaptation.

Minnesota Sings is a competition between cities throughout Minnesota. The competition is designed for amateur vocalists ages 13–20 as well as 21 and over. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Minnesota Sings held a virtual contest. Contestants sent their video performances to Minnesota Sings electronically. After approval by a panel of judges, videos were uploaded to the Minnesota Sings YouTube channel. Winners were chosen by two out-of-state judges, who based their selections purely on vocal talent.

Matt was contestant #11. He sang for the city of West St. Paul and was sponsored by the city’s Optimist Club.

More about Matt…

Matt (left) in Inver Large Ensemble Space

Originally from West St. Paul, Minnesota, Matt graduated from Henry Sibley High School, Class of 2017. He serves as Inver Hills Choir Club president.

“I’m involved in multiple musical groups outside of school,” Matt said. “I participate in a community choir, as well as two bell choirs and chancel choir at my church.”

Matt resides in West St. Paul with his parents and younger sister. The family has a 5-year-old Chihuahua named Dolly.

Music faculty perspective: Jennifer Parker

Jennifer (right) teaching at Fine Arts Festival 2019

Jennifer Parker has maintained a varied music career as an educator, performer, arranger, director and songwriter. Past highlights include presentations at the Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota and Washington State Music Education conventions.

Jennifer has been selected to direct all-state vocal jazz ensembles in Illinois, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Colorado. Most recently she was commissioned to write and premier her composition and arrangement, “This Make Believe,” in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Jazz Education Network in Reno, Nevada.

“Matt is a committed, passionate musician, and he sings with such heart!” Jennifer said. “He is the president of the Inver Hills Choir Club on campus and is a welcoming and warm leader. The music department is so glad that Matt has added music to his pursuit of meteorology.”
Jennifer Parker
Music Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

Jennifer’s song, “Sign of Life,” was featured in the documentary, My Dream, My Right, a humanitarian-awareness documentary focused on Syrian refugee children that premiered in the 2015 Minneapolis film festival. Her composition, “Home,” will be featured on an upcoming album by the Los Angeles based vocal quartet, True North.

Jennifer is celebrating her 20th year in higher education. She is proud to have shared time with amazing colleagues and students at Washington State University, Concordia University, McNally Smith College of Music, and currently North Central University and Inver Hills Community College.

Jennifer’s lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is blessed to share life with her husband and music educator, Shon Parker, and their beautiful 7-year-old son, Gideon.

More about the Music department at Inver Hills…

Guitarists Taylor Stotesbery and Yeng Yang in Inver Large Ensemble Space

The music instructors at Inver Hills are accomplished musicians who are passionate about teaching. They are music scholars, performers and composers who are exceptionally knowledgeable in their areas of expertise. Whether you are a novice pianist or a future recording executive, our instructors are dedicated to expanding your musical world both creatively and professionally.

This program provides the educational foundation for students who are interested in employment in music industry professions. This two-year degree provides a basic foundation for students pursuing their Bachelor of Fine Art in music or bachelor’s degree in music industry/business, and for students interested in entering the music industry job market.

Students will take 30 credits in general requirements and 38 credits in music and related courses. An internship in the final semester will prepare students by offering a hands-on practical learning experience while also teaching networking skills, resume building and skills for applying to other schools, jobs and grants.

Designed to meet you wherever you are musically, from serious study to personal enrichment to just getting started, our courses include:

  • Beginning group lessons
  • Private lessons: beginning to advanced levels
  • Performance opportunities
  • Music appreciation
  • Special topics courses
  • Music fundamentals

As a music student at Inver Hills, you will have a number of performance opportunities, including recitals when you are enrolled in private lessons. Our department features three distinctive ensembles that are regular course offerings open to all students with any level of experience:

  • Inver Hills African Drum and Dance Ensemble
  • Inver Hills Choir
  • Inver Hills Steel Drum Ensemble

The Music department is equipped with outstanding facilities that provide the acoustics, instruments and technology you need to propel yourself forward as a musician.

  • 300-seat Inver Hills Theatre
  • Black Box Theatre
  • Large Ensemble Space
  • Three Studio Lesson Spaces
  • Piano Lab
  • Recording Studio
  • Dedicated Practice Rooms
  • iMac Music Composition Lab
  • Steinway Grand Piano

Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.), Music 68 credits

The A.F.A. in Music gives music students a strong foundation for transfer to a four-year institution while offering opportunities for hands-on learning in the music industry and establishing tangible connections to music industry professionals.

The focus of the degree is offering students a holistic approach to music, including taking courses in music history, music theory, music performing ensemble, music industry, applied lessons, and an internship that provides training in a specific area of focus. Students may be able to transfer with junior status to a four-year institution and/or gain meaningful employment in the music industry.

Inver Hills Steel Drum Ensemble

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Matt Gaines Q & A

Inver Hills Choir
What do you like most about studying music at Inver Hills?

Studying music at Inver provides a challenge for my normally meteorological mindset. It also allows me to piece together how my performances tick.

What are your duties as IHCC Choir Club president?

My duties as the Choir Club president tend to vary based on what’s needed. Those are usually planning events on campus (variety shows and concerts), and figuring out ways to reach students to join the choir.

What is your strongest attribute as a singer?

An ability to project and reach the lower ranges of the voice at the volume.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What are your career goals as a singer?

Either work in music production or performing on the West End or Broadway

Who is your favorite singer and why?

My favorite singer is Ramin Karimloo. I first heard him on the soundtrack for the 25th anniversary of the Phantom of the Opera, playing the title role. The clarity and resonance in his voice blended into the fragile psyche of the phantom.

What is your favorite kind of music?

I listen to a myriad of different genres. But if I were to choose one or two of my favorite genres, it would be choral and Broadway.

What do you like best about meteorology as a field?

One of the things I like about meteorology as a whole is being able to analyze past significant events and look into possible mitigation efforts in the future. For example, on April 27, 2011, and May 4, 2011, the central and southern U.S. were under siege by violent tornadoes. During the April 27 outbreak, 15 EF4/5 tornadoes were responsible for 316 fatalities, the largest number of tornado-related deaths since 1925.

Similarly on May 22, a violent tornado—the fifth EF5 that year—struck the town of Joplin, Missouri, leaving 1,150 people injured and 158 people dead. That tornado now ranks as the seventh deadliest and costliest tornado in U.S. history.

The main thing I tend to look at from these events is how could the human cost have been lowered. In many instances during the April 27 outbreak, people didn’t have access to warnings due to power outages caused by a wave of morning storms. In the cases of Joplin and April 27, many people were under the impression you needed to see the tornado and hear the sirens before seeking shelter. This was why so many people died in these events; they relied on hearing the sirens and witnessing the tornadoes before going to storm shelters.

In a few cases from April 27 and Joplin, people were heavily covered in sheets of rain, which obscured their view of approaching tornadoes. The main thing I would improve for the future is improving warning methods and upgrading housing construction in these areas.

Three words that describe you as a singer:

Why have you chosen your potentially dual career path?

I’ve always loved music. I’d would love to either perform and/or produce my own music, whether as my main career or on the side.

One of my main career goals for the meteorological side of things is to research past events and create better methods of warning delivery/mitigation efforts. As for the end goal, I’m hoping to work for the National Weather Service, the NOAA Storm Prediction Center or the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.

What is the greatest challenge facing your generation?

There are too many correct answers to that question. One that comes to mind is striving for affordable schooling and healthcare.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Either performing on stage or recording, or working for the National Weather Service and its affiliates.

Matt Gaines 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: A tie between fishing and football
  2. Place you would most like to visit: London, UK
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Traveled to New York City for a mission trip
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Travel the world 2) Work on technology for the field of meteorology 3) Possibly put on a large choral concert
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Dark Side of the Ring on VICE TV
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: The Invisible Man
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Find ways to improve weather forecasting and warning systems, especially in the field of tornadic activity
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Great-horned owl
  9. Dream occupation: Either performing on Broadway, or working at the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC)
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Tim Burton
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: To write choral masterworks
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Among most things, I have to say global warming/climate change.
Learn more about the A.F.A. in Music at Inver Hills by contacting:

Andrew Martin
Music Faculty

Admissions Team
College Center

¹ SOURCE: Minnesota Sings

Music Information Sessions

Interested in learning more about the Music program at Inver Hills? Sign up to attend an information session to hear more about how we can get you started toward your bachelor’s degree, or landing a job after finishing your A.F.A. in Music.

VIRTUAL Music Information Session

Tuesday, January 5, 2021 4 p.m.

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