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Boy wonder

For 11-year-old Logan Stugart, who got his musical start in Gaston, cutting a CD is all part of a debt of gratitude
by: Jonathan House, Former Gaston resident Logan Stugart sang with the Oregon Symphony last weekend. When he’s not singing, he enjoys snow skiing and playing with his three dogs.

Eleven-year-old singer Logan Stugart is effusive in his praise for the teachers, vocal coaches and family members who've paved the way to his success so far.

Take Laura Frye of Forest Grove, for instance.

'I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for her,' he said of Frye, his kindergarten music teacher at Gaston Elementary School and the person who first recognized his exceptional talent after awarding him a solo part in a school play.

'She pointed out to us that Logan's voice wasn't just an ordinary thing,' said his mother, Maija Mueller. 'He pursued singing largely because Mrs. Frye encouraged us to pursue vocal opportunities for Logan and get him into a choir.'

Stugart auditioned for and won a position as a treble singer in the prestigious Portland Boychoir when he was seven, becoming its youngest member ever, his mother said.

He's performed in two productions at Theatre in the Grove in Forest Grove and is a star singer in the Portland Youth Choir's 'Cascadia' group, which includes several members from Cornelius, Forest Grove and Banks.

Last Saturday and Monday evenings, Stugart sang a solo - in Hebrew - with the Oregon Symphony during its 'Voices of the Spirit' concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland.

He belted out 'Chichester Psalms' by Leonard Bernstein. Stugart was 'a little nervous' but once it was over, he could relax.

'Saturday went really well,' he said Monday afternoon. 'I was in tune and it felt good.'

Stugart, now a fifth-grader at Aloha-Huber Park Elementary School in Beaverton, is perhaps most indebted to the people of his home church, Emanuel Lutheran in Cornelius. For years now, members of the congregation have served as his warm-up audience as Stugart sang solos during worship, many for the first time.

On Easter Sunday, Stugart will sit at a table during coffee hour between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. and sign copies of his debut CD, 'Simple Gifts,' which showcases the pre-teen's crystal clear soprano voice.

The compilation of classical and religious songs, many in Latin and Italian, should please Stugart's biggest fans.

'I think it turned out really well,' said the budding artist, who spent Spring Break playing with his three dogs at the family's Aloha home. 'But it was definitely a lot of work.'

It took 20 hours in five recording sessions over 10 days to produce the CD, which features such famous selections as 'Ave Maria' and 'Amazing Grace.' David York, Stugart's vocal coach and the former director of the Portland Boy Choir, picked out the final tracks.

Recorded at Assumption Village, a Portland chapel, and the Kung Fu Bakery - which also serves as the studio of choice for acclaimed local band Pink Martini - 'Simple Gifts' has all but consumed the last several months of the Mueller-Stugart family's life.

'It's been quite a project,' said Mueller, who was tasked with securing performance rights to several of the songs and served as the main taxi driver to and from the studio.

Logan's father, Greg Stugart, and his sister, Laurel, cheered him on from the sidelines.

'Neither his dad or me sings at all,' said Mueller, who works at a Portland real estate investment company. 'Logan always sang, and sang well. He just comes by his talent naturally.'

When he isn't on stage and in the spotlight, Stugart likes to listen to classical, pop, rock and country music. His favorite artists are John Mayer and Jack Johnson, but he can get into a rollicking song by Bon Jovi or the Rolling Stones.

Stugart enjoys skiing and suits up with an Aloha Youth Football team during the fall. He's also a voracious reader who gravitates toward historical fiction.

The family rule - no iPods, video games or television during the week - helps Stugart stay focused on school. Next year, as a sixth-grader at Whitford Middle School in Beaverton, he'll join the SUMMA options program, reserved for students who test at the highest academic level.

'I'd like to be a marine biologist someday,' Stugart said. In the meantime, he'll enjoy his musical gift to the fullest.

'I think it's a way to express yourself,' Stugart said. 'It's my way of saying thank you to God for giving me this talent.'

York and others pushed to get Stugart's pre-pubescent voice recorded before it inevitably drops. His three-octave range - he can squeeze out a high C sharp on a good day - won't last forever.

'Dr. York said to us, 'it's a pretty unique soprano voice he's got - you really ought to think about getting it on tape,' Mueller said.

That ought to please Laura Frye, who met Stugart during her final year teaching music.

'I only had two students over the years with a voice like Logan's,' Frye said of her prodigy last week. 'It was clear as a bell, and he had the ability to hit the absolute middle of the pitch, something that's pretty rare.

'When he stood up and sang, it gave you chills.'