After placing second in the 2012 KC SuperStar competition, Samantha Smith is going for the big prize this year in the “American Idol” style contest.
By JOE HENDERSON
Special to The Star
Smith, a senior at Blue Valley West high school, won a $2,500 scholarship for her second-place finish last year. She recently became one of 23 students — including several from Jackson County — to earn a spot to determine the area’s top high school singer for 2013.
“I’m hoping for the best,” said Smith, 18, who lives in Overland Park. “Actually, I was surprised when I made the contest last year. It was the first time I’d ever auditioned for anything and everyone was so good. They were all good this year, too.”
More than 200 area high school students auditioned this year, said Tammy Ruder, producer of the contest. “It’s the largest turnout we’ve had in the four years of the competition,” she added.
The winner receives a $7,500 scholarship and the title of KC Superstar. A $2,500 scholarship goes to the second-place finisher and a $1,000 scholarship for third. Other finalists each receive $250. There’s no fee to participate.
Last year’s winner was Erick Patrick, a student at Olathe South. Michaelah Burns, a Blue Springs High School student, who won first place in 2011. Taking the top prize made them ineligible to compete again.
Other finalists from last year who made this year’s semi-finals are CeCe Dawson, a junior at Kearney High School; Jackson Gulick, a senior at Shawnee Mission Northwest and Monica Sigler, a senior at Olathe East. Marlena Marcase, a junior at Blue Springs High School, and Abby Parra, a senior at Bishop Miege, were semi-finalists last year.
Gulick said being a finalist a year ago helped him prepare for this year’s audition. “Auditioning is always nerve-racking but having gone through it before made it easier. Some of the same people were there and we encouraged each other.”
“I felt more confident this year,” Parra said. “If I win a scholarship, I plan to go to St. Louis University to study broadcast journalism and musical theater.”
Dawson said she also would use the scholarship for college. “I’m not sure where I’ll go yet but I hope for a career in singing and acting.”
Judges at the auditions were Krista Blackwood, Cultural Arts Director at the Jewish Community Center; Julie O’Rourke-Kaul, a professional singer and performer, and Mary Wolf, a filmmaker and director.
They also will judge the semi-finals June 3 in White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center. There the field will be narrowed to 10 contestants for the finals Aug. 25 in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College.
A panel of professionals from the entertainment industry will judge the finals, selecting the top three contestants. The audience then will vote to determine the KC SuperStar of 2013.