Meet the Buffalo Sings Champions!

Congratulations to our Buffalo Sings Champions!

That’s right: champions! With so many quality applicants to choose from, we also crowned a Buffalo Kids Sing champion.

A crowd of nearly 250 gathered on March 1 to support the finalists. Each singer performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and an encore of their choosing. The judges gave our finalists personalized feedback and then retreated to deliberate.

Chris Vasquez of Amherst was crowned our Buffalo Sings champion. Chris delivered an emotionally stirring performance of “Brother, Can you Spare a Dime” for his encore. The judges praised his thoughtful performance and his storytelling. Chris is 49, and teaches in the Buffalo Public School system. He is a native of Williamsville, and holds degrees from Tufts University and from New England Conservatory of Music. He has been recognized internationally for his passionate interpretations of the tango. He received the prize of “Best Singer” from the NYC Argentine Consulate International Tango Competition and was a finalist in the Medellín International Tango Festival in Colombia.

Sherrie Charles of Lancaster was the runner-up. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Sherrie has lived in Buffalo for 22 years. She has sung gospel all her life, and has toured internationally with her family band, Carribean Extravaganza. She runs a company called Future Cool Appliances, and assists low-income individuals acquire quality reconditioned and used appliances. She is also the mother of Shemika Charles, the Limbo Queen, who is in great demand nationally for NBA halftime shows and for TV shows. Sherrie selected George Gershwin’s classic, “Summertime,” as her encore.  The judges admired how she made both pieces completely her own, adding a jazzy feel to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” with one judge commenting, “I’d pay money to hear you sing any day of the week.”

Camryn Clune of Amherst is the Buffalo Kids Sing champion. Camryn is a student at Christian Central Academy and starred in “In the Blink of An Eye,” a highly-acclaimed, locally-produced film about heroin addiction. She has performed the national anthem at numerous
sporting events and other community activities around Western New York. (NFL, NHL,
MILB, KeyBank Center, USA Hockey, University at Buffalo, Niagara University, St.
Bonaventure’s, etc.). She is also the founder of Backyard Broadway, an association of performers that raises money for families in need, and a correspondent for The Buffalo News. For her encore, she selected the wistful “Another Life” from The Bridges of Madison County.  The judges praised the innocence and emotion she brought to both performances.

Raffi Wright of Clarence is the runner-up. Raffi is a senior at Clarence High School, and plans to study vocal performance in college. He has been a mainstay in the Clarence Drama Department, with such roles as The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera and Igor in Young Frankenstein, for which he won a Kenny Award for Most Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role. Raffi selected the energetic “Orange Colored Sky,” made famous by Nat King Cole. The judges admired his stage presence and his evident appreciation of the American Songbook classics.

Chris and Camryn will perform with the BPO on April 14 and 15, respectively. Come and cheer them on!

Congratulations to them, and we thank everyone who entered. Keep singing, and may the dreams that you dared to dream come true!

L to R: Onna Lynn Hacker, Aurora Boneberg, Kelly Picone, John Morris Russell, Chris Vasquez, Sherrie Charles, Mary Kate O’Connell, Drea D’Nur, Elena Izquierdo, Camryn Clune, Raffi Wright. Back row: Max Pipinich, Adam Luebke, Chris Handley

Chris Vasquez, Sherrie Charles and John Morris Russell




John Morris Russell with Camryn Clune and Raffi Wright


L to R: Mary Kate O’Connell, Adam Luebke, John Morris Russell, Chris Vasquez, Sherrie Charles, Max Pipinich, Drea D’Nur