Close your eyes and imagine that you have a mic in your hand, a crowd is roaring and you’re standing on a stage amidst thousands of people on Crenshaw Blvd. including some of your favorite artists and record label executives who are waiting to hear you sing. Guess what? That dream can soon become a reality in as little as one minute and thirty seconds.
How can your life change in an instant? When you audition for the StarQuest singing competition this weekend at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall—you’ll finally have that opportunity to put all that singing in your car, the shower and the choir to good use. For the 11th annual Taste of Soul (TOS), Bakewell Media continues to up the ante by being on the pulse of technology. This year’s StarQuest competition included an innovative online audition process which StarQuest producer Pat Shields shared has been an immense success.
“The TOS mobile app and the website has really been drawing people in,” said Shields. “We’ve seen some great submissions online thus far and the contestants are encouraging their friends and family to cast their vote. The person with the most public votes gets an automatic slot as a finalist on the StarQuest stage at the Taste of Soul festival.”
Even if you don’t receive the automatic finalist slot, you still have a chance to compete. Come out and wow the judges with your personality this weekend. Kids ages 5-17 and adults 18+ are encouraged to share their talents on Saturday, Sept. 24, 10am - 4pm and Sunday, Sept. 25, 1pm - 4pm. Nine finalists will be selected and notified that they’ve advanced to the next round by September 30th. They’ll then have two weeks to prepare for the main event.
A distinctive aspect about the StarQuest competition audition process is the elite panel of judges, many of whom are award-winning artists, record executives, managers, publicists and more who have taken time out of their busy schedules of touring, producing and working in the music industry to empower the next generation of emerging talent. Over the course of the weekend, competition hopefuls can expect to receive praise and constructive criticisms from the likes of: Willie Norwood, Jackie Gouche Farris, Scott Galloway, Monica Alexander, Brian Vickers, Ron Carter, Brad Davidson, Christopher Cathcart, Tamra Goins, Shari Dempy, Lee Bailey, Lynn Jeter, Cheryl Dickerson, Ray Shields, Brian Samson, Darlene Donloe, Tamala Lewis, Belma Johnson, Lamont Dozier, Jr., Brandon I. Brooks, Cliff Winston, and Guy Black.
In terms of how the influential panel of judges came together, Shields shares, “These industry professionals know how to recognize talent. They’re looking for performers who grab their attention and have a compelling stage presence because they know what’s going to work on a big stage.”
If you’re lucky enough to advance to the final round, here’s what to expect on October 15th on the StarQuest stage, which Bakewell Media is proud to have sponsored by HepCHope. The first part of the day, from 10a-2pm is the kids and adults competition. The winner of the kids competition will be whisked away to perform in front of a captive audience on the KJLH stage while the adult winner is rewarded with the opportunity to perform their song on The Wave stage. From 2p-6p the StarQuest stage will transform into the ‘Emerging Artists Showcase’ where talent that has been recently signed to record labels and artists who have a local following will perform. The stage will also include the smooth sounds of a live band.
Shields’ reflects on how the selfless idea that TOS creator and founder Danny Bakewell, Sr. had five years ago has truly impacted the lives of countless emerging artists.
“From my understanding of when Mr. Bakewell came up with the idea, he wanted a community stage that would embrace all members and all ages of the black community throughout South Los Angeles. What’s great about StarQuest is that it allows those individuals who are looking for a career in the entertainment industry their chance to be seen in front of a major audience—350,000 people come through Taste Of Soul throughout the day and you never know who might be in the crowd.”
She adds, “This is also an opportunity for those individuals who look at singing as something that they’ve always wanted to try but hadn’t had the platform to express themselves. StarQuest allows so many people who have finally gotten the courage to get on stage to let their voice be heard. It was Mr. Bakewell’s wish that anyone in the community who felt as if they had something to contribute who may not have had the chance to try out for "American Idol", "The Voice" or "America’s Got Talent", could now showcase their skills in front of their community.”
In the five years since the inception of the competition, many participants have seen their careers skyrocket into new dimensions. 2014 StarQuest For Kids winner, singer and guitarist Tim Jr. is now used to the lights, cameras and action of Hollywood having been cast in a film with Ice Cube, a show on Nickelodeon and an Apple commercial. Last year’s StarQuest For Adults winner, Tia P.’s professional accomplishments since participating in the competition include starring in a Pepsi commercial as well as landing a role on an upcoming television series with Grammy Award-winning artist and producer, Will.i.am.
Now that you’ve been fired up and you’re ready to show South Los Angeles that you’ve got what it takes to make the TOS attendees your new fan base, here’s the fine print of the StarQuest audition process:
Where: Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90008, on the Macy's Bridge.
When: Saturday, Sept. 24, 10am - 4pm & Sunday, Sept. 25, 1pm - 4pm.
How: You can perform a cappella, with keyboard, guitar or bass accompaniment, or bring your musical track on a CD or flash drive. Your song should be 1:30 (one minute, 30 seconds) and should be the only song on the CD or flash drive. There should be NO LEAD VOCALS on the song. Background vocals are acceptable.
Also: A rap bridge with clean lyrics is acceptable as long as 80% of the performance is sung.
And: Vocalists can bring a solo instrument to accompany them but a full rhythm section cannot be accommodated.
For even more information on StarQuest and to cast your vote for the “People’s Choice” finalist, visit: tasteofsoul.org/starquest.