Schaumburg-based singer/songwriter Ryan Cooper of the band PolySci is often approached by aspiring artists for advice on breaking into the Chicago music scene. One of his first suggestions is to audition for live competitions such as Suburban Chicago's Got Talent.
"It's a great platform for identifying yourself in the music scene and pushing forward," said Cooper, who was a 2015 co-winner of the summerlong talent competition.
Main location: Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 962-7000 or arcadalive.com or events.dailyherald.com
Private auditions: Monday through Wednesday, June 18-20
Top 20 show: 6 p.m. Sunday, July 8
Top 15 show: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 29
Top 10 show and finale: 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Little Italy Fest-West at Centennial Park, Lake Street at Rohlwing Road, Addison
Registration for this year's competition is open, and there are still audition spots available.
The third year of competing was the charm for Cooper, while fellow winner -- Arlington Heights native and singer/songwriter Laura Burke -- won on her first try in the multi-round talent contest.
Both Cooper and Burke say the contest helped them grow as musicians.
"Having all of these rounds definitely helped me to improve my performance," said Burke, who released an EP single titled "Lost" in 2017 and is a regular performer with the Chicago band Mike Zabrin's Funktastic. "Getting the feedback from the judges, it helped to know what to fix for the next rounds and to do what was best."
For its seventh season, Suburban Chicago's Got Talent moves to the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, and tickets to all public shows are free. Up to 100 private audition slots are available between June 18 and 20, and the registration deadline is June 4. A full list of contest rules and policies can be found at events.dailyherald.com/scgt-audition.
The Top 20 and Top 15 rounds are respectively on July 8 and July 29.
The Top 10 show and finale announcing the grand prize winner and Fan Favorite prize (chosen by online voting at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent) is Aug. 4 at Addison's Little Italy Fest-West. The top prize is a Development Package (custom video, website development, mentor and photo session), a trip for two to either Nashville or Cleveland, a headline concert and an opening act slot for a national act at Schaumburg's Septemberfest on Saturday, Sept. 1. The Fan Favorite prize is being finalized.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent at the Arcada Theatre is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group, Salon Lorrene and the village of Schaumburg.
Both Cooper and Burke said there's nothing like live stage experiences as part of a competition to help artists become better performers who can connect with audiences. Plus, the contest gave them the chance to network with other performers.
"You're going to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and then you can build what works and what doesn't," Cooper said. "Being in front of a live audience is definitely a humbling experience, but it can also be a very inspirational one for people on both ends -- people onstage and people in the crowd."