Twenty-four area high school students have emerged as semifinalists in the 2015 KC SuperStar competition for a $10,000 scholarship and the title of best high school singer.
The semifinalists, 12 girls and 12 boys, were chosen from 225 high school students who auditioned before a panel of judges March 29 and last Wednesday at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park.
The finals are Aug. 23 in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College. The 10 finalists will be judged by a panel of industry professionals who select the top four contestants. The audience then votes to determine the winner.
Judges for the auditions this year were Krista Blackwood, Whitney Smith, Samantha Agron and Brad Cunningham. KC SuperStar is produced by the Jewish Community Center and is open to all high school students in the metro area. The competition is coordinated by Felice Azorsky.
“This may be the most talented group of students we’ve had in the six years of the event.” said Tammy Ruder, producer of KC SuperStar. “The judges had a difficult time getting down to 24 semi-finalists. They deliberated late into the night.”
The semifinalists included four finalists from last year’s “American-Idol” style contest: Kate Cosentino, a sophomore at Blue Valley West High; Prince Russell Johnson, a senior at Wyandotte High; Tessa Hake, a freshman at Blue Springs High; and Taylor Ramsey, a sophomore at Notre Dame de Sion High.
Cosentino, 16, who placed third last year and won a $2,500 scholarship, said she was “super excited” to be competing again.
“I was surprised I made it. Everyone was so good, so talented this year,” she said. “Since I’d been through it last year and knew what to expect, there was a little less pressure.
“I knew some contestants from last year and that helped. It’s always nice to see someone you know,” said Cosentino, who sang “Worrisome Heart.”
Taylor Ramsey, 15, said knowing what to expect helped.
“But it also was harder because I wanted to do better this time,” Taylor said. “I get nervous, really nervous, when I audition. Actually, I think maybe it helps my voice.
“I was a little out of my comfort zone because I sing more gospel music, not blues or jazz. I sang ‘Summertime’ at this year’s audition,” Taylor said.
Tessa Hake, also 15, said she was better prepared this year. “I definitely felt more confident than last year,” she said. “But the talent level around me was so much higher it made me a little nervous.
“I’m definitely feeling good about being selected again. It’s all very exciting,” said Tessa, who sang “Masterpiece.”
Auditioning for the first time this year was Austin Klein, 17, a senior at Blue Valley Northwest and the younger brother of Keith Klein, last year’s KC SuperStar winner. Keith Klein, 19, who graduated from Blue Valley Northwest, is now attending Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.
“The SuperStar event was more visible after my brother won,” Austin Klein said. “I also had friends who were auditioning so I decided to do it, too. It seemed like a good way to wind up my senior year. Keith and I have different styles. He’s more Crosby and Sinatra and I’m more Johnny Cash, more rustic.”
Austin Klein sang a Johnny Cash song, “Hey Porter,” and his performance earned him a spot as a semi-finalist.
“I think I represented myself pretty well,” he said. “I didn’t get nervous. I’ve auditioned for a lot of musicals, so it doesn’t bother me.”
Semi-finalist Elijah Thomas, a freshman at Raytown South, was really excited before his audition.
“I can’t wait,” said Elijah, 15. “I haven’t had any lessons but I’ve been singing since I was a little kid. I’ve been in talent shows and I play the piano, bongos and the guitar. I just like performing.”
Elijah sang “A Song for You” at the audition. “I like the way it moves,” he said.
This was the second time semi-finalist Nick Schneider, a junior at Raymore-Peculiar, has auditioned for KC SuperStar.
“I auditioned two years ago and didn’t make it. I decided to try again. I’m sure glad I did. I was ready this time,” said Schneider, 17. “I’ve been in some high school plays and community theater. I like to sing. I’ve been taking lessons six years.”
The 12 boys: Prince Russell Johnson, senior, Wyandotte; Anthony Morman, senior, Washington; Elijah Thomas, freshman, Raytown South; Wesley Geil, senior, homeschool; Sebastian McCarty, junior, Blue Valley North; Austin Klein, senior, Blue Valley Northwest; Alex Haywood, junior, Libby Lane Academy; Zane Champie, sophomore, Blue Valley West; Byron Hyde, sophomore, Paseo Academy; Trevor Weinrich, senior, Rockhurst; Nick Schneider, junior, Raymore-Peculiar; Dominic Demeo, junior, Libby Lane Academy.
The 12 girls: Bethany Vermillion, senior, homeschool; Monica Stanley, senior, St. Teresa Academy; Ashley Rogers, freshman, Raymore-Peculiar; Allie Bostwick, junior, St. Thomas Aquinas; Jillian Brower, junior, Basehor-Linwood; Taylor Ramsey, sophomore, Notre Dame de Sion; Leah Wilhite, sophomore, Blue Valley West; Tessa Hake, freshman, Blue Springs; Kate Cosentino, sophomore, Blue Valley West; Mallory Griffin, freshman, Oak Grove; Haley Lynch, sophomore, Shawnee Mission East; Lorreal Triplett, freshman, Olathe South.