Meet the Top 15 for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent
Fifteen acts remain in Suburban Chicago's Got Talent, and they're getting ready to battle it out Sunday in the next round of competition at Schaumburg's Prairie Center for the Arts.
In the mix are singers, singer-songwriters, instrumentalists, a gospel blues band and a hip-hop dance troupe.
Each act in the summerlong talent search will aim to please the judges and win over audiences, who will get to vote for their favorites at dailyherald.com.
The Top 15 show starts at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 16. Tickets are $10 and are available at (847) 895-3600 or prairiecenter.org.
As in past years, the grand prize is a "STARter Kit." Valued at $5,000, it includes an opportunity to open for a national headlining act at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, career mentoring by Onesti Entertainment, and professional video and still photo shoots of a live performance.
Also up for grabs is the Fan Favorite prize. After Sunday's performances, videos of the acts will be posted online at dailyherald.com for the public to view and cast votes from midnight, Tuesday, July 18, through noon, Friday, July 21. The act with the most online votes is guaranteed to advance in the competition, while the contestant with the most cumulative votes will win an entertainment package with gift cards from local restaurants, theaters and attractions valued at more than $500.
Both winners will be announced Aug. 5 at the Taste of Arlington Heights.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, the Prairie Center for the Arts, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, Salon Lorrene, Zeigler Automotive Group and Amita Health.
Meet the Top 15
Hometown: Lake in the Hills/Chicago
Meaningful performance of my own: My first show as a solo artist. I sang covers and also performed my originals for the first time live. It was such a great experience to have a show all my own and I'm so thankful for everyone who came out and supported me that night.
Hometown: Annie Young is from Elgin, Bill Crampton is from Streamwood, Joe Misek is from Algonquin
Meaningful performance of my own (Annie Young): The first time I sang my first original song, "I Saw A Miracle," at my home church, the Elgin Vineyard in 2009.
Hometown: Elmwood Park
Meaningful performance of my own: In elementary school, I wanted to sing for the school's talent show. I chose "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and I dedicated it to my grandfather. He was a very important part of my life. He showed me how to truly love music, and I wanted to thank him for leading me to the one thing I've always wanted to be: a singer!
Meaningful performance of my own: This year's Blues Festival at Chicago's Millennium Park. I got the opportunity to perform for the Chicago Blues Kids Foundation on the Blues Village Stage to inspire other kids!
Talent: Hip-hop dance troupe
Meaningful performance of our own: In 2015 we competed at World Of Dance Competition in Chicago. We were all under the age of 18, so we were originally supposed to compete in the youth division. However there weren't enough acts so we were bumped up into the competition's upper level. As a bunch of teenagers going up against professionals, we assumed we had no chance to place or win. However we went out there and did the best we could. Apparently hard work really does pay off because we came out on top with a first place! This was one of the most gratifying experiences we could have ever imagined. We were definitely the underdog and we came out on top. We will always remember that moment for the rest of our lives.
Meaningful performance of my own: My first performance ever, back in 2008. I had two weeks to practice the music and I couldn't use my gear for the show. I did pretty awful, but my friend and bandmate, Kevin, really helped me get through the negative feedback. I promised myself that I would never stop trying to improve on my skills.
Meaningful performance of my own: Every next performance means the most to me. They all take the same amount of preparation and create the same amount of excitement for me whether in a garage, in front of my friends, or on stage in front of many people.
Meaningful performance of my own: I did a solo performance at the Hard Rock Café in Chicago where I got to play guitar and sing music that I wrote. That was really special for me!
Meaningful performance of my own: I have played in bars and at different house parties for a long time. What I have learned is it is always about the performance you are in at the moment -- that means the most. You don't want to get too far ahead and miss out on the present. When I was a freshman in college I was in the show "Oklahoma." I knew the director very well and we all knew her as "Ma." I also knew it would be my last show with her and decided to write her a song, and some of the other cast members contributed. I was talked into performing it and sang to her after the closing night performance on stage. It was cool.
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Meaningful performance of my own: In front of the Chicago Rush singing the national anthem with my choir group. When I was there singing in front of that many people, it was so exhilarating, so awe-inspiring. Seeing everyone clap after you perform was heartwarming and sensational.
Meaningful performance of my own: Opening up for a very successful band, The Roosevelts, at Schubas in Chicago. There were probably 300 people in the room, which is by far the largest indoor crowd I've played for. I had many friends and family come out to support me, and got to meet some great friends along the way.
Hometown: Oak Lawn
Meaningful performance of my own: On our second tour of England, we did nine shows in 11 days. What was amazing was that we sold out all our shows and sold out all our merchandise before the third show. To see the people we met from the first tour show up with our Monk 9 shirts and such warm smiles that they greeted us with made the tour great.
Hometown: West Dundee
Meaningful performance of my own: The first talent show I ever performed at school was the most impactful because I remember being absolutely terrified. When I finally did my act, I found out that it wasn't as bad as I made it out to be. From then on, I got more and more comfortable. The more you just go out and do it, the better you'll feel about performing.
Hometown: Poplar Grove
Meaningful performance of my own: I decided to audition for "The Voice" in Chicago two years ago. I advanced through the first two rounds and was flown to Los Angeles for the third round in front of executive producers. I was only 15 at the time and one of the youngest contestants. There were a million thoughts running through my mind as I went into my third audition. I was doing something bigger than I had ever done before. Putting myself out there for the ultimate judging of my artistry. Was I out of my league? Did I belong here with all these seasoned vocalists and musicians? I went forward believing there was a reason I was there among these finalists and to show them I belonged there by having the best audition I could and leave it all out there holding nothing back. Unfortunately I was cut right before the TV blind auditions. I will always be proud of what I accomplished at such a young age. My dream was not crushed. It made me want to pursue a music career even more.
Talent: Pianist and singer/guitarist
Meaningful performance of our own: We played at a fundraiser for the family of a veteran, and it meant so much to both of us. Seeing people come together as a community to help each other out was moving.
Top 20 Judges
Paige Ehlman: An active member of the entertainment industry both onstage and behind the scenes for more than 30 years.
Ehlman began her career as a child model, later training as an actor and singer. She earned a bachelor's degree in communications and theater from Loyola University of Chicago. Ehlman began her career in talent management in the mid-'90s and started her own agency, Paige Model & Talent Agency, in 2013. She represents talent for all types of media, including national commercials, film, voice-over, print work and more.
Ron Onesti: President and CEO of Onesti Entertainment Corporation, which runs the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and outdoor concerts throughout the area.
Barbara Vitello: A Lisagor Award-winning reporter, the Daily Herald's principal theater critic and legal affairs writer.
Michael Weber: Executive director of Porchlight Music Theatre in Chicago, an Equity actor and a director who stages the annual Jeff Awards ceremony and has worked with the likes of Patti LuPone.
Rob Pileckis: The Chicago resident has hosted events such as Screen Test Student Fest film festival, Summer Breeze concert series and the Schaumburg Youth Orchestra's "Presto!" holiday concerts. He's also conducted interviews onstage with celebrities like opera star Danielle de Niese and Robert Osborne from Turner Classic Movies. For his day job, Pileckis works as production supervisor at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts.
Location: Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg, (847) 895-3600 or prairiecenter.org
Showtimes: Top 15 perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 16; Top 10 show at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 30
Free finale: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Taste of Arlington Heights