KENOSHA — A Kenosha singer-songwriter who made her debut on NBC’s “The Voice” this spring is coming to the aid of a scholarship program for high school students planning to continue their education abroad.
Betsy Ade and the Well-Known Strangers are scheduled to perform a live concert on June 22 at Reuther High School, 913 57th St., in Downtown Kenosha, to benefit the Olivia Mackay High School International Trip Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship was established in memory of Olivia Mackay, who was murdered in July 2017. She was 17. Her killer, Daniel Tate, was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. With the help of accomplice Jamari Cook, Tate dumped Mackay’s corpse in Mount Pleasant after killing her on a Kenosha beach. Cook is serving a nine-year sentence in connection to the case.
An Indian Trail High School and Academy student, Mackay had a love for all things Asian and was determined to visit as many places as possible around the world while maintaining good grades and working two jobs. She had gone to China the year before her death. Among her aspirations was to open a Chinese bakery.
The scholarship, which is administered by the nonprofit Education Foundation of Kenosha, was started to carry on her spirit while helping other students travel and study abroad.
Ade’s recent success
Kelly Mackay, Olivia’s father, said he contacted Ade, a substitute teacher in the Kenosha Unified School District, who had performed on “The Voice” until being eliminated at the end of April. Ade worked with three of the show’s four judges, including John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Adam Levine.
Her national debut occurred during a “blind audition” in which the judges heard only her voice until hitting a buzzer that indicated she had made it onto the show. During that audition, both Levine and Legend buzzed her in, indicating they wished to work with her. But Ade, who had earlier indicated that her son was a fan of Legend, chose to work with him first.
“I reached out to her and I thought it was going to be a great way to raise the money for the scholarships,” said Mackay, who had not met Ade previously. “When I reached out to her, she was more than willing to make it happen. She’s great. We had this great cooperation from the district and they’re securing the Ralph Houghton auditorium for the event. She was super receptive and we’re so greatly appreciative.”
This year was the inaugural year for the scholarship, which was awarded to two Indian Trail High School and Academy graduating seniors intending to study abroad in an accredited college or university program.
Emma Herrick and Katherine Kositzke received $1,000 to pursue post-secondary studies abroad, which were awarded during a ceremony last month.
Next year, said Mackay, the scholarships will be open to students throughout Kenosha Unified. One scholarship will go to a graduating senior, while the other will be for a high school student.
Among the criteria students must meet include demonstrating a financial need, provide a transcript showing a 3.0 grade point average or better, evidence of enrollment in Kenosha Unified, evidence of employment and evidence of participation in a school international trip.
The scholarship fund is currently at about $30,000, he said. Two years ago, Mackay had begun the process for starting the fund.
“Originally, I was going to start it as its own 501©(3), but I determined it would be best to hand it over to the Kenosha Education Foundation because it was easier,” he said. “Olivia had planned on studying abroad. That’s what she wanted other people to do, as well. She was always very encouraging of others to travel and learn about other cultures.”