ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.
She’s the first Miss America crowned after the pageant eliminated its swimsuit competition. Nia Franklin, Miss New York, 24, is a Winston-Salem, North Carolina native and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied music composition. Her musical talent, hard work, and academic studies came together as she sang Puccini’s “Quando m’en vo” during the recent pageant’s talent portion. On Sept. 9, Nia Franklin, Miss New York, became Miss America 2019 at the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Franklin, 24, is a Winston-Salem, North Carolina native and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied music composition. She received a $50,000 college scholarship, which she plans to use to earn a doctorate in music composition from Princeton University or Juilliard. She is a classically trained opera singer.
“I grew up at a predominately Caucasian school and there was only five percent minority, and I felt out of place so much because of the color of my skin,” Franklin said. “But growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music that helped me to feel positive about myself and about who I was.”
Franklin sang Puccini’s “Quando m’en vo” during the talent portion. “I want America to see that classical music is still alive and thriving, especially that an African-American woman is singing opera,” she said. “Because there’s so many kids out there that don’t know that they can do classical music.”
This year the swimsuit competition was eliminated for the first time. During the two-hour pageant, contestants paraded down the red carpet in pumps and even pantsuits. The traditional “evening gown” portion was also replaced with an invitation for the women to express themselves in a style of their choosing.
New York has had seven winners, including Vanessa Williams, who was crowned in 1983, making it the state with the most wins in the pageant’s nearly 100-year history. Williams was the first African-American crowned Miss America.