Basie Center announces recipients of annual Pat DiNizio Music Performance Scholarships


Pat DiNizio(RED BANK – DEC 23) The Count Basie Center for the Arts today announced the recipients of this year’s Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarships.

Alejandra Morales, 15, of Bayville and Gabriel McGivern-Jiminez, 16, of Wall, were selected from dozens of applicants for this year’s awards. Each will receive $500 towards programs as part of the Count Basie Center Academy’s School of Music.

Morales takes vocal performances classes at the Basie Academy, and both she and McGivern-Jiminez study at the Basie Center’s Monmouth Conservatory of Music.

“Music has been a big part of my life and it is something I would love to keep doing,” Morales said in her application. “It’s my special way of bringing joy to the people around me, and my goal is to be able to make a living out of my passion.”

“I would love to be in the music or performing industry as I get older, and this scholarship would definitely lead and help me achieve this goal”

“My passion for learning music and performing has been developed through my time with the Monmouth Conservatory of Music,” said McGivern-Jiminez. “I love performing and attending piano competitions, and I’ve also been teaching myself guitar and ukulele.”

“I have goals to pursue music as far as it will take me and the scholarship would allow me to possibly travel to a program or class offered during summers that I may not have been able to attend on my own.”

“All of us in The Smithereens began our lifelong love affairs with music at a tender age,” said Dennis Diken, founding member and drummer of The Smithereens. “It’s gratifying to know that the annual Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship at the Count Basie Center for the Arts is helping to foster creativity in young people at a time in their lives when they can look forward to following their muse with their whole lives ahead of them.”

At the time of his passing, DiNizio and The Smithereens had just announced plans for a Basie Center performance. The concert instead became a tribute to DiNizio, featuring Smithereens bandmates Babjak, Diken and Mike Mesaros, fronted by an array of vocalists including Marshall Crenshaw, Ted Leo, Gin Blossoms lead singer Robin Wilson, Scandal’s Patty Smyth, Freedy Johnston, Richard Barone, Severo Jornacion and others. The evening ended with an all-star performance of The Smithereens’ classic “A Girl Like You,” led by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt.

A portion of sales from that concert and money raised worldwide during a live webcast of the show helped create the scholarship fund.