Ten finalists will go head-to-head in friendly competition for a $10,000 scholarship and the title of KC SuperStar 2017 in the American Idol/Voice-style contest.
They were chosen from 22 semifinalists on June 9 by a panel of judges before an exuberant, packed audience in White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park. The semifinalists emerged from a field of 180 students from metro area high schools, who were auditioned in March and April.
Each of the contestants was greeted with a round of cheers when they were introduced and briefly interviewed by emcee Rich Linden, a radio and television announcer. The vocalists were accompanied by recorded instrumental tracks.
Finals of the KC SuperStar competition will be held Aug. 27 in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College. The contestants sing before another panel of judges who narrow the field from 10 to four. The audience then votes electronically to determine the winner of a $10,000 scholarship and the KC SuperStar title.
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The second place winner is awarded a $5,000 scholarship, third place a $2,500 scholarship and a $1,000 scholarship goes to fourth place. The remaining six contestants each receive $500 scholarships.
Last year’s KC SuperStar was Elise Dorsey, a Shawnee Mission North graduate, now attending Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pen, majoring in musical theater.
Judges at the semifinals were Lindsey Jones, Julie O’Rourke Kaul and Chris McCoy.
Madi Toman, of Paola High School, and Sam Aubuchon, of Blue Springs High School, both finalists last year, are back for another run at the $10,000 scholarship and KC SuperStar recognition.
“I felt more pressure making it back to the finals this year than I did last year,” said Toman, 17. “Now that I’ve made it maybe I can relax for a couple of days.”
Aubuchon, 16, sang “Stone Cold” at the semifinals. “I first heard it on the radio a few months ago and it stayed in my head. I decided to go with it and it turned out all right,” he said. “I was pretty confident this year but I knew it could go either way. There were a lot of talented kids there.”
Byron Hyde, of Paseo Academy in Kansas City, was in the semifinals two years ago but didn’t make it last year. “Now I’m happy. I finally made the KC SuperStar finals,” he said. “I’m really excited.”
“I sang ‘Clown.’ I wanted to sing something with a lot of emotion,” said Hyde, 18.
Mallory Griffin, of Oak Grove High School and another semifinalist two years ago, made the finals, too. Griffin, 18 sang “Gravity” at this year’s semifinals.
Chloe Puetz, of Blue Valley North High School, auditioned for the KC SuperStar contest for the first time this year. Now she’s in the finals.
“I’m so excited. I thought I’d be confident going in but waiting backstage I got nervous,” said Puetz, 17.
She sang “Little Me” at the semifinals. “It’s a favorite I can relate to,” she said. “Having the right song is so important. You need one that suits you. Even a good voice doesn’t do well if you don’t have the right song.”
Brooklynn Anderson, of Olathe North High School, auditioned two years ago and didn’t make it, then forgot to audition last year. “My Mom made sure I didn’t forget again,” said Anderson, 18.
Savanna Worthington, of Shawnee Mission East, was the last to sing and admitted she was nervous when her turn came. “I told myself it’s pretty cool making it this far. That calmed me down a little,” said Worthington, 17.
Three other finalists rounded out the group. Bryanna Darley sang “Fallin’;” Olivia Johnson sang “I Who Have Nothing;” and Devion Williams sang “When We Were Young.”
The finalists will rehearse Fridays and Saturdays as a group from now until the finals under the direction of Tammy Ruder, producer of KC SuperStar. “We will work with them in selecting the song that suits their voices.” Coordinator of the event, sponsored by the Jewish Community Center, is Felice Azorsky, manager of Donor Relations and Events.