For the second year in a row, a Blue Valley Northwest graduate has won the title of KC SuperStar — and with it a $10,000 scholarship — in the “American-Idol”-style contest.
Keith Klein, who graduated from Blue Valley Northwest this spring, was acclaimed as the metropolitan area’s best high school singer at the KC SuperStar finals Sunday in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College.
Klein was gracious in his moment of triumph.
“I was really surprised. All the finalists were so talented, such great singers. Any one of them could have won and they all deserved to win. We’ve grown close during the weeks leading up to the finals. We support each other,” Klein said.
“I was more nervous after they announced the winners than when I sang. I grew up in a small South Dakota town. I’m not used to all the bright lights and excitement,” Klein added with a laugh.
The field of 10 finalists was narrowed to four by a panel of judges and then the audience voted electronically to determine the 2014 KC SuperStar.
Rob Riggle, a comedian and film actor (“21 Jump Street” and “The Hangover”) was the celebrity emcee and introduced the contestants. “These kids are incredible. This town has so much talent. I love it,” said Riggle, a graduate of Shawnee Mission South and the University of Kansas.
During the program, Jacob Schreiber, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center, announced the establishment of the Reat Griffin Underwood Rising Stars Fund. The fund is in memory of Reat, 15, who with his grandfather, William Corporon, was shot to death April 13 outside the JCC where he planned to audition for the KC SuperStar contest. The fund will provide assistance to KC SuperStar contestants and JCC education, theater and training programs for youths under 21. Reat’s mother, Mindy Corporon, and her husband, son, and mother attended the event.
Last year’s KC SuperStar was Dylan Martin, who also graduated from Blue Valley Northwest this spring. Martin, who lives in Overland Park, won as a junior and therefore was not eligible to compete again. He’s now enrolled at Belmont University in Nashville.
Klein, also from Overland Park, sang “Georgia on My Mind” at the finals. He will attend Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and major in vocal performance.
“The $10,000 scholarship will be a tremendous help to me and my family,” he said.
Second place and a $5,000 scholarship went to Justus Johnson of Olathe, who graduated from Olathe East this spring. He will attend Thorn Conservatory of Music in Colorado Springs this fall. He sang “I Who Have Nothing.”
“I was a little disappointed but I’m satisfied with the way I sang,” Johnson said. “It’s been an amazing experience, an adventure. We had the opportunity to work with an awesome director and really talented people. I haven’t decided on a career yet but it definitely will be in music, singing and performing.”
Placing third and winning a $2,500 scholarship was Kate Cosentino, a sophomore at Blue Valley West, who lives in Overland Park. She sang “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
“I’m so excited,” she said. “I was the only girl to make the final four! I’ve been singing and playing the guitar for eight years. Being in the SuperStar contest has given me confidence and helped me grow as a musician.”
Cosentino said she plans to enter the contest again next year, maybe the next two years.
“I had such a good time and made so many good friends,” Cosentino said. “I’ll definitely go to college. I’ll hold the scholarship until I decide where I’ll go. I want to have a career in singing and writing songs.”
Wyatt McCall, a schoolmate with Klein at Blue Valley Northwest, placed fourth and won a $1,000 scholarship. “Keith and I have been friends since we were together in ‘Peter Pan’ a year ago at the Theatre in the Park. We were pirates,” he said.
“There was a family dynamic among the finalists. We were a tight group,” said McCall, who sang “Just Your Voice.”
“They were the most talented people I’ve worked with,” he said. “Anyone could have won.”
McCall will be at Webster University in St. Louis this fall, where he’ll major in musical theater. He lives in Olathe.
The other six finalists and the schools they attend were Russell Brown, St. Thomas Aquinas; Tessa Hake, Blue Springs, Freshman Center; Prince Russell Johnson, Wyandotte; Taylor Ramsey, Notre Dame de Sion; Paris Naster, Blue Valley North; and Maggie Marx, Shawnee Mission Northwest, who placed second in last year’s KC SuperStar contest. Each received a $500 scholarship.
KC SuperStar is sponsored by the JCC and directed by Tammy Ruder. Felice Azorsky is the program coordinator.