Hoosier Star 2020 Committee Members

Liliana Ake

Liliana Ake has been a committee member for three years!

Her long time passion for music started in her native Russia where she studied piano since she was 7 years old. Liliana holds Masters Degrees in Linguistics and Education Administration. She is a Real Estate Broker with Coldwell Banker 1st Choice and loves helping people. She has traveled to many countries including her recent trip to Tanzania helping with the construction of the Zinga Polyclinic.

Diana Blair

Diana has been a Committee member for four years and a major contributor in the assistance of tech and support for Hoosier STAR! Diana is a retired school teacher and holds a degree in Computer Sciences from Ivy Tech. She is an avid Yogi and loves to read.

Cherri Blair-Drayton

Cherri Blair-Drayton, Chairperson for Hoosier STAR 2021 resides in La Porte, Indiana and is married to V. Michael Drayton Former Board President for the LCSO. Cherri has a daughter Brittany, two grandchildren Kosta and Riley and a son Collin. “This is my fifth year chairing this event. There are wonderful people and extraordinary talent that I am honored to be working with.” Cherri volunteers at Kingsbury Elementary and conducts story times every month to help instill a love of literacy with the students. Cherri and her mother Diana Blair co-authored a children’s book, Christmas Pickle and are STILL pursuing venues for publication! Cherri is also the recipient of the Shakespeare of Excellence Award for Poetry Writing. She worked 12 years for La Porte County Public Library as an Events Specialist planning and marketing events for all ages for the library system as well as planning and sharing events with many organizations throughout the La Porte County. Cherri proudly brought music to the library partnering with the LCSO to bring a summer concert series Brass on the Grass featuring the LCSO’s very own Chuck Steck to perform on the library lawn and also partnered with LCSO’s past Executive Director Tonya McGue and Cynthia Ward to implement another concert performed on the library lawn as well featuring a past Hoosier STAR finalist!  Cherri introduced the La Porte County Public Library to its first Traveling Art Exhibition partnering with Lubeznik Art Center and Land of Lakes Art Alliance. Paving the way for the arts mingling with books. She brings this experience to Hoosier STAR 2021!  She would like to thank her Family, Hoosier STAR Committee members, and ALL the volunteers that have worked hard to bring this amazing event together! 

Greta Stirling Friedman

Greta is a native of LaPorte, a Slicer and graduate of Bates College in Lewiston Maine and Valparaiso Law School. Her earliest memories are of listening to every Broadway musical and memorizing the lyrics. As a child of two musicians and educators it was one of our favorite things to do. Greta’s first singing experience was as Gretel in “The Sound Of Music” along side her mother, Jayne Westphal as Maria.

Greta has appeared in numerous musicals and plays in the last 26 years in local theater. Her role as Peter in “Peter Pan gave her the unique perspective of singing while flying in the air. Much harder than it looks and it gave her a whole new appreciation of Mary Martin! While a huge challenge it was fun for her to share the stage with her two children who were part of the wonderful cast. For several years Greta has had the privilege of singing with the Praise Team at the First United Methodist Church with some truly talented musicians.

She has participated in Hoosier Star on several occasions as an Audition Judge and describes it as uplifting and joyful. “The level of talent we see in this remarkable competition is incredible. Every year I say that it was the best year yet….until the next year. It just keeps improving each year. The leadership, vision and talent of those who put on this competition each year is dedicated to encouraging young singers and is second to none.” ” It is an honor to be working with James Nearly and the other remarkable members like Cherri and Tim and the board to see that this competition continues even in this challenging time….we need music perhaps more than ever!”6

Jackie Hart

My passion and love for music began at a young age of 5. My parents Richard and Diana bought me a Grinnell Brother’s piano. I was so excited, I started taking piano lessons immediately.

My parents encouraged me musically, they’d often ask me to play for them. They enjoyed when I played offering much praise and encouragement.

I played piano for my Father’s church in Denham Indiana. I played at weddings my Father performed, and in Nursing homes. Our entire family would participate. I played piano, mom played guitar, my Father, sister’s, and brother would sing. I remember the joy it would bring to the nursing home folks as we performed. They tapped their feet, nodded their heads, some would hum, some danced in their seats. Our family enjoyed ministering together through the music ministry.

Today I do not play as often as I’d like. My love for music whether playing or listening to talented individuals remains constant.

I’m excited for this years contestants! Once again we have an amazing line up of talent. I’m so proud to be a part of such an important organization that promotes and recognizes Great and Amazing talent!

Tim King

Eight years ago, when I moved into the La Porte area, I never dreamed that I would be so involved with this wonderful Orchestra. After having lived in Louisville and been involved with The Louisville Orchestra for so many years as well as soloing with a number of orchestras across the country, I was skeptical about hearing the LCSO. My first experience was the 2013 Hoosier Star event. I remember being so impressed with the sound and quality of the Orchestra and also impressed that creative minds came up with this wonderful idea of Hoosier Star! Now in our 16th year and still producing talent, it is such a joy to work with the finalists every year (our emcee, Jeremiah Mellen, won the 2013 Hoosier Star!) as well as our incredibly talented musicians. Long live Hoosier Star!

Jane Langford

Most recently I have enjoyed being a part of the LCSO board and participating in many of the board activities including Hoosier Star. I am married almost 60 years and we have raised three children as well as teaching 20 years.

Stephanie Murphy

Stephanie Murphy is a librarian who loves the arts. She, along with her husband and 5 of her 6 children, has been involved with La Porte Little Theatre club for more than 10 years, both on and off stage. She is happy to be serving on the Hoosier Star commitee for the second time.

Suzan Wade

I am in awe of the talent that walks through our doors and the genre of music that is chosen. I am very happy to be a part of Hoosier Star.  I currently serve as Secretary of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra Board as well.