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CELEBRATING THE ARTS : PROGRAM RECOGNIZES BLIND ENCINO SINGER.

Byline: Rick Orlov Daily News Staff Writer

For nearly all of her 18 years, Laurie Rubin has taken solace in music.

In the next month, the celebrated vocalist will be taking her bows.

Rubin, a senior at Oakwood High School, will perform March 25 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., after being selected as a soloist winner in the Very Special Arts program.

And April 8 she will perform at the Los Angeles Music Center.

All heady stuff for the young Encino woman who has been blind since birth.

``I can see colors and people through my music,'' Rubin said Tuesday during City Hall ceremonies where she sang an operatic aria.

Los Angeles was selected Tuesday as the 1999 host of the third international festival of the Very Special Arts program. The festivals are held every five years. The program was founded in 1974 by Jean Kennedy Smith and receives much of its funding from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Rubin, who learned in December that she had won the annual young soloist award and a $5,000 scholarship from the organization, sings operas in four languages - Italian, French, German and English. She began playing the piano at the age of 4, and at the age of 10, through the encouragement of her mother, grandmother and piano teacher, she began to receive voice lessons.

``She was always interested in music,'' said Lily Rubin, her mother. ``My mother said the instrument she should focus on is her voice.''

Lily Rubin found a voice teacher for her daughter one day while she was getting a manicure.

``This woman was complimenting me on Laurie and I told her we were looking for a voice teacher,'' Lily Rubin recalled.

The woman, Elizabeth Howard, helped train Rubin's voice and develop her interest in opera.

``She was the one who helped make my voice so strong,'' Laurie Rubin said.

As she has trained, she has grown and her local fame has taken her to singing at a dinner honoring retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf and the 1993 inauguration of Mayor Richard Riordan.

In addition, she has sung at various contests and concerts around the country.

``I keep telling her that her voice takes us to the best places,'' Lily Rubin said.

As for her own future, Rubin said she plans to attend Oberlin College to major in music with the hope she can teach other blind people about music.

``I hope they can see that music can be the connector to the sighted world as it has for me,'' she said.

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PHOTO Actor Billy Barty jokes with Mayor Richard Riordan and singer Laurie Rubin at a news conference promoting the Art and Soul festival.

Kim Kulish/Special to the Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 12, 1997
Words:470
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