Traditionally, going out to see live music involves listening to a featured performer and maybe a couple of opening acts. Getting the brain to absorb the different musical nuisances of three lead vocalists in a single sitting greatly stimulates the artistic senses.
If a trio of singers makes the patron happy, watching and listening to 20 will leave them downright giddy.
Overloading the customer with a tidal wave of talent is the goal of Southern Starr Production & Entertainment when it presents Oscar Night Singer’s Gala Showcase Extravaganza on Oct. 25 at Marion Cultural & Civic Center.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets begin at $12 and can be purchased online at www.marionccc.com.
“This is going to be a huge theatrical production full of glamour and glitz. We cut no corners and spared no expense. Every contract we signed contained all the frills available. We wanted to put on a full scale Hollywood-type production that would be simply breathtaking. I believe we will meet and exceed those expectations,” says Jim Gentile, President of Southern Starr.
The organization was formed in 2010 and hosted events in each of the past two years, seeking to showcase top local talent. Winners have included rhythm and blues singer Matt Wilson of Mounds and country vocalist Gabe Marshall of Jacksonville. Both will return for the gala.
“We decided to take a look at Season 1 and Season 2. There were a lot of people we wanted back, plus there were a few others we’ve been seeking for a long time that was not available for the first two shows,” Gentile said. “The stage is going to be full of heavy hitters. You better get your tickets early because we are expecting a sell out!”
Not just anybody will be competing in this showcase. It is strictly invitational only. Participants were carefully chosen by the Southern Starr staff. The result is a diversified cast of all ages and musical genres.
“These are not amateurs that have only gone out and sang karaoke a couple times. This is the best of the best,” Gentile said. “This is a handpicked cast — the cream of the crop in Southern Illinois. These are students of voice that have dedicated their life to singing. They are seasoned performers.”
Also included in the cast is longtime favorite Chris McGee, a multiple winner of the Colgate Country Showdown and Hollie Hiller and Miranda Joy Willmore, both recording in Nashville under the tutelage of veteran producer Doc Holliday. Willmore narrowly missed qualifying in St. Louis this year for the national finals of "The Voice."
Other participants include Matt Basler, Olivia Gordon, Jana Harner, Lashonna Pinnon, Taylor Bound, Kaylee Mezo, Sarah Lannom, Brian Jones, Julia Hall, Macey Shelton, Ashley Geomaat, Crystal Davis, Annette Begaman, Anna Luxion and Brandon Smith.
“There are a few people that have participated in the show in the past that will not be able to appear because they are experiencing career growth. Drew Baldridge comes to mind. He is on the fast track down in Nashville. I would like to think the exposure from our event helped him in some way. All the participants in the show are hoping it will provide a momentum boost for their career as well,” Gentile said.
Gentile said the same lighting company used for the Miss Illinois competition has been contracted to work the show. The show has been rehearsed and choreographed to provide a stunning visual effect.
Wes Bennett and Julie Ingram will serve as co-emcees for the program. Scott Kinley will be the announcer.
From the performance of each contestant during the gala, a panel of three judges will select a winner that will receive a $500 cash grand prize and a specially designed trophy. The runner-up will win $300. A consolation prize of $200 will be given to the third-place finisher.
Three charities will receive donations from the proceeds of the event, including Angel’s Cove, a teen pregnancy crisis center in Mount Vernon; House of Hope, a soup kitchen in Herrin and the Homeless Veteran Fund.
Gentile said Southside Lumber and the Herrin VFW combined forces to purchase 80 balcony seats that are being donated to a group of underprivileged children from the area in an effort to expose them to the arts.
VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at 618-658-9095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.