Friday, September 28, 2012

MGHers showcase singing talents

POWERFUL VOICES: From left, Powell, Castleton, Vanderburg, Downes-Berry and Pierre

“And I found a dream that I could speak to/ A dream that I can call my own.”

Emily Vanderburg clutched a gold microphone as she belted out those lyrics from “At Last” by Etta James. The song not only sparked thunderous applause from the audience, but also proved to be a prediction for the Operating Room administrator. Minutes later, Vanderburg’s dream was realized when she was awarded a gold trophy naming her as this year’s MGH Star Performer.

“It’s amazing,” Vanderburg said. “I’m shocked. Everyone was just so talented – they were all just so good.”

More than 30 MGHers first showcased their talents in mid-September during tryouts for the annual singing competition, which was hosted by MGH Human Resources and My Giving Helps: The MGH Fund + United Way Employee Campaign. As a special surprise, the campaign co-chairs donated $1 for each of the 267 votes received. The judges – Susan Barraclough, director of Nutrition and Food Services, Bill Banchiere, director of Environmental Services, and Shea Asfaw, chief of staff for Administration – then narrowed the field to six finalists who took to the stage Sept. 20 in the hopes of capturing the coveted 2012 MGH Star Performer title.

During the competition, the trio gave rave reviews of each singer, but ultimately it was the employees gathered beneath the Bulfinch Tent who cast their votes to crown the winner. The decision was not easy – each performer brought a distinctly personal style to the stage.

Ben Castleton, senior data analyst and programmer in the Critical Care Management Unit, shared his vocal prowess in “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables;” Meaghan Downes-Berry, research finance specialist at Partners Research Management, added some country finesse to Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About;” Nancia Pierre, an operations associate for Patient Care Services, who starred in the My Giving Helps campaign’s “Donate Maybe” music video, performed a spirited rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep;” followed by Reina Powell, patient services coordinator for Internal Medicine, who wowed the audience with Adele’s “Someone Like You;” and Neetu Singh, PhD, a Cancer Center researcher in the Dyson Lab at the Charlestown Navy Yard, had even the judges out of their seats dancing with her version of the Dixie Chick’s cover of “Landslide.”

The performances were taped and will be available for viewing online in the near future; information will be sent via the Daily Broadcast email. The campaign ends Sept. 28. For more information, visit

Read more articles from the 9/28/12 Hotline issue.


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