Talent Show for Kids Facing Obstacles
For all of you American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent fans out there, tomorrow night is the Garden of Dreams Foundation’s 2013 talent show – a talent competition with a very meaningful twist. The third annual show, put on by the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a non-profit charity that strives to positively impact the lives of young people facing difficult obstacles, and The Madison Square Garden Company, is an event where children and young adults ages 5-18 have the opportunity to forget about their problems and showcase their unique talents at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Unlike the sometimes discouraging tryouts we see on reality talent programs, the Garden of Dreams uses every step of the process to encourage the participants, beginning with auditions. In February, hundreds of kids performed their talents in front of a panel of celebrity judges (in past years they’ve included Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Cruz, The Strokes, and Seth Meyers – to name a few) who had the challenging job of narrowing down the talent to just 18 new acts. Broadway star Tony Vincent (American Idiot, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent) is a judge for the second year in a row and says even if the kids don’t make it into the show, just the opportunity for them to perform and express themselves in front of celebs who’ve made it in the industry, is instrumental in giving them hope that they too can be successful despite their challenges. “We all want to feel like we’re supported and that’s one of the cool things about that first initial level. No one leaves that stage without feeling validated,” says Tony. “We want to encourage them to keep doing what they’re doing and never stop.”
Once the performers are chosen, the judges work with them one-on-one to strengthen the acts as much as possible and share their wisdom. Often, however, it’s the judges who are most inspired. Tony was awed by several acts this year, especially 17-year-old Kasean Sessions who raps about his mom who was murdered in front of him when he was only 6 years old. “There is such a connection between this gentleman’s lyrics and what he’s going through as a human being at only age 17. I was blown away,” says Tony. “If I was a major record label I’d sign him and start developing him as an artist right away.”
Tony also mentioned another favorite: Zachary Wesz, a 16-year-old pianist who plays his instrument seamlessly despite only having eight fingers.
“These kids have so much courage and patience and drive regardless of the obstacles they have to deal with – whether it’s living in foster home after foster home or dealing with medical issues,” says Tony. “I’m excited to be part of the movement to get them to perform and live out their dreams.”
Check out Kasean and Zachary’s acts, along with 16 other new performances, tomorrow night (Tuesday, April 16). The show starts at 7pm on the Great Stage in Radio City Music Hall and is free and open to the public. I’ll see you there!
Photo: Model Damaris Lewis, Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels, Broadway star Tony Vincent, and the Rockettes at the mentor’s table for the 2013 Garden of Dreams Talent Show Rehearsals at Radio City Music HallAdd a Comment