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updated: 8/1/2014 12:22 PM

Acts gear up for final round of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent

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  • The top 10 finalists have been chosen for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent contest.

      The top 10 finalists have been chosen for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent contest.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer


Who will win Suburban Chicago's Got Talent?

Will it be a hip-hop performer living in Hoffman Estates, or perhaps a young Chicago Ridge violinist who is adept with both classical and mariachi music?

Will SCGT be won by one of three guys who sing and play guitar? Or by one of the four remaining vocalists, whose talents cross the board from country to R&B, opera to pop? Or might top honors go to the dance crew that specializes in robotics and gymnastic moves?

These are the 10 finalists -- from a field of nearly 100 who auditioned back in June -- for the summer-long talent competition co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg.

At stake are two top prizes. New for 2014 is the "STARter Kit" grand prize, which features a performance at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles as an opening act for a major headliner, a professional concert-style photo shoot, a promotional video drawn from live competition footage and professional talent mentoring.

There's also the Fan Favorite prize, which is a Funjet Vacation for two. The winner of this prize is determined by the total number of online votes cast throughout the competition at

Both winners will be announced on Saturday, Aug. 9, after outdoor performances at 3:30 p.m. at the Taste of Arlington Heights.

For now, though, the finalists are gearing up to win over the judges at the Top 10 show at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3, at the Prairie Center for the Arts.

Daily Herald staff writer Barbara Vitello has been a SCGT judge for three years running, and she can see how contestants can bolster or bumble their positions at this all-important performance.

"Performers can certainly improve their chances by surprising us," Vitello said. "At the same time, they don't want to wander too far from their strengths."

At this point, it's anyone's guess who will take the top prize.


Dennis Caravello
  Dennis Caravello - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Dennis Caravello

Hometown: Mount Prospect

Occupation: Server

Talent: Singer-songwriter

Challenges in my life: I've recently decided to drop out of college and it's awfully scary to think about sometimes. But I'm now pushing to write great music and gig like crazy, and that's very challenging. I'm looking to make a lifelong dream come true and at the same time leave a lasting impression on the music industry and the world. And by no means am I expecting anything to come easy and I love that.

Ryan Cooper
  Ryan Cooper - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Ryan Cooper

Hometown: Schaumburg

Occupation: Alexian Bros. central distribution

Talent: Vocalist and guitarist

Challenges in my life: Gaining perspective on various styles of music in the area. Meeting people with extensive knowledge and taking their passion public. Learning to appreciate the value in experiencing performances given by others. Sharing those values.

DeMarcus Artis
  DeMarcus Artis - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
DeMuziq Artis (DeMarcus Artis)

Hometown: Oak Park

Occupation: Customer specialist at Avant Credit

Talent: Singer

Challenges in life: My single mother raised both me and my brother on her own. She made sure we were involved inasmuch as we could and taught us never to give up on anything. Living the majority of our lives without our father, my brother and I were both Eagle Scouts.

Jaooo (Jordan Madonia)
  Jaooo (Jordan Madonia) - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Jaooo (Jordan Madonia)

Hometown: Hoffman Estates

Occupation: Factory work

Talent: Hip-hop singer/writer

Challenges in my life: Father of a child at a young age. My criminal history. Financial stability. Overall I'd say we all face challenges and obstacles every day. I have just learned to view them as opportunities to grow and learn.

Mike L (Michael Lueck)
  Mike L (Michael Lueck) - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Mike L (Michael Lueck)

Hometown: Des Plaines

Occupation: Carpet cleaner

Talent: Multigenre singer

Challenges in my life: At first when my father passed away, I lost all passion to do anything. I flunked eighth grade, and due to my poor academic action and my attitude, I got sent to military school in Wisconsin. Being there, I met some great people. One of whom is currently a world championship competing bagpiper. He followed his passion and he is on top and that is what I plan to do as well.

Mysterious Krew
  Mysterious Krew - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Mysterious Krew

Hometowns: Sean Adams of Hanover Park, Vernon Davis of Streamwood and Armond Mayberry of Hanover Park

Occupation: Dance

Talent: Dance troupe

Challenges in our lives: Probably learning choreography. We always just freestyle so we had to take a bigger step which was choreography. It took us a very long time, but we were so determined to do this. All I can say is we are hard workers.

Bryana Martinez
  Bryana Martinez - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Bryana Martinez

Hometown: Chicago Ridge

Occupation: Student

Talent: Violinist

Challenges in my life: Sometimes I have to practice for several concerts at one time. I also have to eat healthily so that I have energy for all of the concerts and practices.

Rachel McPheeters
  Rachel McPheeters - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Rachel (Rachel McPheeters)

Hometown: DeKalb

Occupation: Teacher

Talent: Singer

Challenges in my life: I was pulled out of high school due to migraine headaches. This is a time when I found myself through my singing. I enjoyed little contests here and there, and have enjoyed singing since then. I have evolved over the years, finding my own style and stage presence. Never believing I'd find myself back at high school, I'm able to connect with my students and counsel and care for them in ways that I can identify with -- the struggles of growing up, especially with the high school years. I even sing for them from time to time. I love my job.

Carly Meyer
  Carly Meyer - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Carly Meyer

Hometown: Northbrook

Occupation: Student

Talent: Classical singer

Challenges in my life: It was determined that I was an audio learner. I now put everything to music and get straight As. My peers often think that I am weird because I sing and like opera -- they say I am possessed by a 50-year-old person. Most 11 year olds just like pop, but my voice teachers assure me as I get older people will appreciate my talent.

Farah Morales
  Farah Morales - Brooke Herbert Hayes | Staff Photographer
Farah Morales

Hometown: Mount Prospect

Occupation: Mother and receptionist for Salon Cienna in Palatine

Talent: Singer

Challenges in my life: I came to Chicago to pursue my music career at 17! So yes, I have overcome many obstacles, challenges and life's lessons to be here today. My dream was put on hold for more than 20 years until now.

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