McKINNEY — The first quiet notes from Cameron Coiro belie the range and emotional intensity that are to follow. Backed by a trio of musicians, Coiro stands center stage at the New World Symphony Center in Miami, and eases gently into the somber, heartwrenching ballad “I (Who Have Nothing).”

Moments later, his voice vents with rising desperation, and then retreats again into quiet, sad longing, navigating the tossing emotions of the song with a maturity beyond his years. As the number closes with somber resignation, Coiro strides unassumingly from the stage.

Coiro, a senior at McKinney High School, is one of only 171 students from across the country to be recognized as a 2014 Finalist by the National YoungArts Foundation.

While his MHS classmates faced bitterly cold weather and the end of their two-week winter break last Monday, Coiro and 24 other Finalists in the Pop, Jazz and Classical Voice Performance category helped kick off the 33rd annual YoungArts Week that ran Jan. 5-11 in Miami with a concert that demonstrated why they are considered among the most gifted high school vocalists in the country.

To put the award in perspective: Approximately 11,000 young artists from literary, performing, visual and design arts fields applied for the honor. Of those, 687 were named winners with one of three designations – Finalist, Honorable Mention and Merit – and of those winners, only 171 earned the most prestigious Finalist designation. Coiro was one of just a handful to be named a Finalist in the Popular Voice Performance category. He was chosen based on a submitted audition video of four vocal performances.

“It was so amazing,” said Coiro of his experience in front of the audience. “I got chills when I walked out onstage because of the fact that everyone there was an artist or musician or somehow connected to art and music. And, it was crazy to see that all of these people were actually watching me and encouraging me to do well. It was an amazing feeling.”

Hanging out in Miami for YoungArts Week was no vacation. Coiro spent each day honing his craft from morning to night under the guidance of respected professionals Nicholas Beard and Julie Silvera.


“It’s cool because you’re in this hotel,” said Coiro, “and you’re either in the ballrooms in master classes rehearsing, or you’re at the YoungArts campus. Other than that you’re secluded from the outside world for this whole week. Mostly, we were rehearsing for the audition on Thursday.”

That audition would determine the monetary award each Finalist will receive – an amount that could range from $1,000 to $10,000. “Our performance night, how we did throughout the week and our audition and interview determine how much money we get. The interview was specifically for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts.”

To watch Cameron Coiro's performance of "I (Who Have Nothing)" advance to the 2:11:53 mark.

McKinney High School choir teacher Cindy Johnston is not at all surprised at Coiro’s success; she could see that he had remarkable talent when she first taught him in sixth grade at Evans Middle School.

“Cameron sings and you just know you are hearing someone special,” said Johnston. “And in all of this attention, he’s still a humble, gentle soul.”

For now, Coiro waits to learn the results of his audition and his Presidential Scholar interview. But, he recently learned that he has been accepted to the Berklee College of Music. For a young man who aspires to write and perform music, it’s not a bad start.

Looking back on YoungArts Week in Miami, Coiro said, “It was absolutely incredible to see these kids and their passion for whatever they went there for. You get there, and you’re automatically called an artist. It’s no longer a hobby, and you’re so respected there. They treat you like professional artists and musicians.

“It was such a fast-paced week. But, it was the best week of my life. It really made me see that I can do this.”

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at