Dylan Martin calls winning last year’s KC SuperStar competition and the $7,500 college scholarship that went with it a “life-changing experience.”
“Winning the scholarship makes it possible for me to attend Belmont University in Nashville this fall. I could never have done it without the scholarship,” said Martin, now a senior at Blue Valley Northwest. He said he fell in love in with Belmont when he visited as a sophomore, but he didn’t think he’d be able to attend until he won the scholarship.
“It changed my goals for the future. I want to make music entertainment my career.”
More than 100 singers from the metropolitan area’s high schools auditioned last Sunday at the Jewish Community Center hoping to be this year’s KC SuperStar in the “American Idol” style competition produced by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City.
A second day of auditions will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. this coming Sunday. “We’re expecting at least a hundred more contestants at this session, too,” said contest coordinator Felice Azorsky.
Maggie Marx, 16, a junior at Shawnee Mission Northwest who placed second last year and won a $2,500 scholarship, plans to audition at the second session.
“I decided on the second one because I was in a musical at school last weekend and I wanted to let my voice recover,” she said.
Scholarships for this year’s competition have been increased to $10,000 for the winner, $5,000 for second, $2,500 third, $1,000 fourth and $500 for other finalists. An audience will choose the winner at the finals on Aug. 24 at Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College.
The field will be reduced to 25 singers on April 26 and 10 finalists will be selected from that group on June 9, Azorsky said.
“When judging auditions we look for performers who connect with us through their performance,” said producer Tammy Ruder. “Number one, can they sing on pitch? Secondly, did they convey the feeling behind the song and draw us into the story they’re telling? If you can do both of these things, it’s a slam dunk.”
Martin can’t compete again because he won last year. But there he was at Sunday’s auditions to encourage contestants and tell them what to expect in the audition room. “I tried to calm their nerves a little bit, especially the first-timers,” he said.
Audrey Voravong, 16, a sophomore at Bishop Miege and a first-timer, appreciated Martin’s help. “I was nervous, very nervous. I was shaking all over,” she said. “The judges smiled and that helped.”
Max Peterson, 16, a sophomore at Blue Valley North, was auditioning for the second time and was relaxed. “There’s nothing like experience. I’ve done a lot of theater at school and that makes auditioning easier,” he said.
Rachel Thomas, 18, who lives in Gladstone and is a senior at St. Pius X, said she gained confidence as her audition went along. “The judges were so nice and encouraging,” she said. “I’d love to make acting a career, not just as a singer.”
Anna O’Renick, 15, a sophomore at William Chrisman High School, is another contestant who auditioned at her vocal teacher’s suggestion. “She thought it would be good experience for me,” Anna said. “She was right, it was good experience. I’m glad I did. I enjoy being on stage.”
Being KC Superstar has provided good exposure for Martin this year. It led to several opportunities, including singing the national anthem at the Chiefs’ last home football game. He also has been invited to sing the national anthem at Sporting Kansas City’s soccer game on May 4.