Suburban Chicago's Got Talent Top 10 face off Saturday
The Top 10 finalists of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent have one last chance to convince a panel of judges that they should take the top prize.
The last round of performances kicks off at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Addison's Little Italy Fest-West. After all 10 acts perform, the grand prize winner and Fan Favorite will be announced.
In the running are bands, singer-songwriters, a comedian/impressionist and a comic operatic duo. They're all vying for a grand prize with many helpful components for rising artists.
There is a vital development package with website development, a custom video, mentor and photo sessions. There's also the choice of a trip for two to either Nashville to meet with music agencies or Cleveland to see the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (airfare, hotel and $200 cash are included with either trip).
The grand prize winner also gets several guaranteed performances of headlining a concert and an opening slot for a national act at the Arcada Theatre. Another recently added performance opportunity is a solo spot at Schaumburg's Septemberfest.
The grand prize is decided by the competition judges. But the general public has already chosen a Fan Favorite through two rounds of online voting at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent.
The act with the most cumulative votes wins more than $300 in gift cards and the chance to perform at Club Arcada, the Arcada Theatre's intimate third-floor cabaret space.
Both the Fan Favorite and grand prize winners will be announced at the end of the Top 10 finale. There's even the chance that one act could win both prizes: The vocal duo iLLest Vocals achieved this feat in 2012 while the former band Seasalt did so last year.
The eighth season of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group and Salon Lorrene.
Here are the Top 10 and some of the major challenges they've faced along the way:
Hometown: Downers Grove
Talent: operatic singers
Major challenges: The greatest challenge in any musical partnership, as well as the greatest part of a collaborative experience, is in the process of figuring out how to make your similarities and differences into the best experience for us and for the audience.
Miguel Rockstar Garza
Major challenges: In my early 20s -- not having gone to college or having a job -- I felt lost, which may have led to severe depression for a while. Eventually getting a job with Southwest Airlines after being rejected twice before was a turning point. It gave me structure, income and some purpose. Today I feel good about myself working and being able to play small bars here and there. Another major challenge is my hearing. I've had hearing problems in my left ear as long as I can remember -- ringing and distortion is a common everyday occurrence. Sometimes it's hard to sing because of it, but I am happy to still be able to do what I love.
Major challenges: I stopped performing for a long time because of a personal trauma that I went through. Years later, I worked through that and slowly started performing again.
Major challenges: Of course, life is super hard with struggles all the time and everywhere. But I keep on going no matter what!
Talent: rock band
Major challenges (for lead singer Bradley McClendon): I was born blind in my right eye, and that has created many challenges growing up. But I've learned to overcome any obstacle and pressure through.
Talent: pop singer-songwriter
Major challenges: Throughout my life, my family has moved across the country many times. I had to constantly re-establish who I was and had to find some sense of belonging even though I knew it couldn't last. That came intertwined with navigating the issues of identity and race (being a queer, biracial woman) in a constantly changing environment and in challenging financial circumstances. I've had to manage anxiety, depression and a brain injury just to function (which is a struggle that's ultimately been rewarding). Instead of looking outside myself to find meaning, I've been forced to find it within.
Last year, I was accepted to Berklee College of Music with a scholarship, but had to defer due to financial hardship. Since then, I've spent my energy reconnecting with why I make art and who is impacted by it. I've worked, performed, sold my belongings and gotten quiet with myself.
As much as I used to wish them away, I've become incredibly resilient, optimistic and empathetic as a result of my life experiences. At a young age, I turned to writing and singing to cope, and now those songs resonate with people around me. I'm able to use my struggle to help others heal. Art is survival. I'm living proof.
Hometown: Wheaton and Glen Ellyn
Talent: rock band
Major challenges: All five of us have very busy lives -- work, school, sports, etc. So being able to get all of us together is sometimes hard, but we always are able to make it work because of our ambition for the music and playing shows.
Major challenges: As a kid, I was extremely shy. I would hide behind my older sister. My mom encouraged me to sing, but my voice would quiver uncontrollably in my early years. After taking up the guitar, I was able to gain more confidence and worked hard to overcome the anxiety. I had my first son when I was 20, and was a single mom to him -- I worked two and sometimes three jobs while fitting in open mics or random performances. I now am delighted and grateful to say that I have spent the last five years solid working as a professional musician. It hasn't been easy, but dang, it has been worth it.
Hometown: La Grange
Talent: blues rock band
Major challenges: Finding a day where we can all get together to practice!
Hometown: St. Charles
Major challenges: Being a young artist is always a challenge because it is hard for people to take you seriously. My age sort of limits me on my shows and gigs that I would like to do.
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Suburban Chicago's Got Talent will feature one surprise judge Sunday and three returning:
Scott May: The keyboardist in the legendary band The Ides of March, a movie composer (the original 1992 version of "Meet The Parents") and also the artist liaison/senior product specialist for Hammond Organ Company.
Ron Onesti: President and CEO of Onesti Entertainment Corporation, which runs the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and outdoor concerts and festivals throughout the area.
Barbara Vitello: A Lisagor Award-winning reporter, the Daily Herald's principal theater critic and legal affairs writer.
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Suburban Chicago's Got Talent 2019
Top 10 finale: 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27