Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'American Idol' High School-Style a Chance to Record a CD Is Part of Prize in Vocal Talent Search

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'American Idol' High School-Style a Chance to Record a CD Is Part of Prize in Vocal Talent Search

Article excerpt

Promising young divas and talented tenors get ready: Starting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Fort Cherry High School, students from Washington County high schools will compete in a vocal-talent search in a program titled "Wake Up Your Dreams."

Fourteen school districts have been divided into four regional districts in which separate vocal competitions will determine 16 semifinalists who will be selected by ballots cast by the audience. The winners will take part in a final competition Nov. 19 at Ringgold High School. Judges will pick a winner who'll be awarded a $1,000 cash prize and a chance to record a CD, which later will be aired by WJPA Radio in Washington.

"I feel that there are a lot of talented kids in Washington County," said Walt Maddox, event organizer and renowned Pittsburgh singer. "If everything goes as planned, the winner's CD may be ready for airplay before Christmas."

The Washington law firm of Yablonski Costello and Leckie provided some funding for the event, partially because the firm provides a significant amount of legal work for the Pennsylvania State Education Association. Leaders of the firm felt the high school tie- in was something they were interested in supporting.

"When Walt Maddox and I met through a mutual friend, I learned about his anti-drug program for school children titled 'Wake Up Your Dreams' that gives them a message of hope," said Ben Costello, attorney with the firm. "A lot of times, youngsters don't have the positive force in their lives to encourage their talent or set them on the right track. This event gives children a chance to realize their dreams in the performing arts, and I'm hoping it can become an annual event."

Lisa J. Buday, an attorney with the firm, has been working on the project for more than a year, contacting the choral directors at the various high schools and suggesting they select as many as four representatives.

"We have students who've turned in quite extensive resumes that list vocal lessons with private teachers, festivals they've participated in, and performances with district and regional choruses," Buday said.

Each of the five high school venues where the competitions will be held can hold 500 to 900 patrons. …

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