20 Under 25: Blaine Krauss

Singer/actor, 19, St. Petersburg & Cincinatti

click to enlarge Blaine Krauss wears his Presidential Scholar medal. - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
Blaine Krauss wears his Presidential Scholar medal.

Presidential material: Blaine, a 2010 PCCA grad who's just finished his freshman year at the Cincinatti Conservatory of Music, was a silver medalist last year in YoungArts, a national, highly competitive arts scholarship program that receives thousands of applicants. As a result, he was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and got to sing at the Kennedy Center and shake hands with President Obama at the White House. "We all shed a little tear, of course," he remembers, "because it was really cool."

But being a Presidential Scholar wasn't just about artistic talent: "To me it's more special that my volunteering and academics mattered as much," says Blaine, a longtime volunteer at the Royal Theater Afterschool Arts Academy in Midtown St. Petersburg. He was nominated for the Presidential award by the judges of YoungArts, but the commission that chooses the Scholars looks primarily at community service, academic achievement and a personal essay.

Why he liked working with children: "It was rewarding to teach kids who, when they go home may not be in the most safe or most encourgaing environment, but every time they go through Royal Theater's doors they know they're safe."

What he did last year on the Fourth of July: Thanks to a woman from John Hancock who saw him sing at the Kennedy Center, he was invited back to D.C. to perform at the National Archives Fourth of July celebration, in the rotunda where the Constitution and Bill of Rights are displayed.

What he'll be doing on 9/11: Thanks to YoungArts, he and two other alums of the program will be performing in Paris as part of a 9/11 memorial event. "It's humbling, if anything — the fact that we're going to be singing for 9/11, that's going to impact a lot of people. To me that's what my artistry should be about, what everyone's artisty should be about — making them think and making them feel."

What he did this summer: He snagged his first regional professional gig, playing a counselor in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in a theater in West Virginia, then went on to sing Motown all summer in a revue at Busch Gardens.

Did his artistic bent come from his family? "I'm not exacty sure where it came from," he says, but his mom tells him he was "just glued to the television every time a music video came on." And his dad (father's German, mom's African-American) was a rapper growing up. "He was tall, skinny — a poster child for white guys," says Blaine. "But he was very good at it."

His school family at PCCA was a big inspiration: "They really just helped me develop who I kind of am, and really sharpened the edges of my craft. I consider Kevin [Renken, PCCA theater teacher] a father figure. The resources there are unbelievable."

And what's next? He played ensemble roles in a couple of shows this year at Cincinnati, including playing "one of Eva's boys" in Evita. He hopes eventually to play a lead. "That would be the honor of honors."

Watch Blaine perform: youtube.com/user/BlaineKr

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