On Saturday, May 14, auditions for the Road to New York talent competition opened at the Kinston High School Performing Arts Center. I asked Captain Newborn how the auditions went.
“The turnout for the auditions was massive,” he told me. “We had five times more applicants this time than when we were here seven years ago. People came from as far away as Hawaii. Talent came from nearly every town in eastern North Carolina, with the most talented coming from Greenville and New Bern. The “kids” competition will be fierce.
“Kinston is by far the smallest city the tour will play this year, but Kinston may be the city that produces the most talent.”
The 22 artists who won the auditions move on to the next phase of the talent search: The Big Show. This show is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 25 at the Kinston High School Performing Arts Center. Admission cost is $20. Doors open at 5 p.m.
The show will start on time at 6:00 p.m. for the national television production which will be filmed on location at the Kinston High School Performing Arts Center.
Captain Newborn shared information on a few of the acts competing on Saturday.
“The quality of the acts is incredible, and record labels are on their way and lining up to gain access to contestants on June 25. The kids’ portion of the competition features a strong lineup of future superstars. Fourteen-year-old Teralyn Harris is the exact clone of Patti LaBelle and will sing “If” by Patti LaBelle. She will surprise the audience with her powerful voice.
“Raija Dona is a twelve-year-old musical prodigy from Honolulu, Hawaii, and will be singing “I’ll Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. She had no problem hitting the big notes.
“Additionally, the Frazer 5 is a five-member children’s gospel group from Chesapeake, Virginia. They are all siblings from the same family. Their voices are magical. Their melody is flawless, and their harmony is perfect. We have never seen such a young group of children with this type of singing ability in the hundreds of shows we have done.
Captain Newborn emphasized that the acts of children should not be booed.
This is not the case with the adult phase of the competition.
The adult contest features some of the best gospel, country, R&B and hip-hop artists from across the East Coast. All of the adult artists with their powerful voices are confident enough to do widely known covers that the crowd will recognize.
Audiences will also enjoy the live Tour Band, The Sandman, gorgeous TV models and host Mark Lee. Like Apollo Theater competitions, adults are at the mercy of the audience. If the crowd likes the number, they applaud. If the adults don’t bring their A-game and the crowd hates the act, the audience can “boo” them – and the Sandman will come out and sweep them off the stage.
“It’s great family fun for the entrants as the contestants compete in front of the toughest audience in the country for the big prizes, trips to New York and a chance to audition at the World Famous Apollo Theater for Amateur Night at the Apollo.
In addition to the contestants, the show will feature performances from special guests. The all-female gospel group, the “Jubilant Gospel Singers”, is one of the most requested gospel groups in the country. The top-flight professional dance team “Three Ladies Who Like to Dance” set the standard used to measure other dance teams.
“Eulanda Throne, Miss Black North Carolina, USA, also attends the show and will present special awards and honors to several Kinston music legends, including Robert Knight, who receives the Lifetime Achievement Award, and brothers Marvin and Ira Wiggins, who will receive the Excellence in the Performing Arts Award for saxophone proficiency,” said Captain Newborn.
To be sure of having a place for this magical and musical evening, be present as soon as the doors open.
Mike Parker is a columnist for the Neuse News. You can reach him at [email protected]
Photo: Eulanda Throne, Miss Black North Carolina USA