Music Student Is Winner of "Searching for the Stars" at MCCC's
James Kerney Campus
In an exhilarating
display of talent ranging from singing to rapping to dancing, nine
finalists competed in front of judges, cameras and a live audience
in the finale of Mercer County Community College's first-ever "Searching
for the Stars" talent competition. At the conclusion of
the 90-minute show, which was hosted by Mercer's James Kerney Campus
in downtown Trenton on March 14, singer/song writer Kelly Carvin,
of Yardville, took home the grand prize - an invitation to perform
at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem later this spring. Carvin
is a first-year MCCC student who is studying music. Two Trenton
performers, singer John Meadows and rapper Randy Kelly, were also
invited to make an Apollo appearance.
The finale followed
two previous nights of competition, starting with 23 contestants
on Feb. 29 that were trimmed to 15 on March 7. Vanessa Brown Rogers,
a special guest judge who is coordinating producer for the Apollo
Theater's Amateur Night, likened Carvin's performance of her original
song "Keep On" to a combination of Joan Armatrading, Joni
Mitchell and Joss Stone. With hugs and congratulations all around,
Carvin took the mic and said, "I am so blessed to be standing
here. I will take full advantage of this opportunity." In addition
to a potentially career-making appearance at the Apollo, Carvin
will receive a limo ride to the theater and dinner at Harlem's Sylvia's
Restaurant, the "Queen of Soul Food."
the lively evening was MC Post Midnight, who prepped the enthusiastic
crowd with an "Are you ready? Let me hear you make some noise,"
before launching into animated introductions of each performer.
In addition to Carvin, Meadows and Kelly, the finalists included
singers Dechantel Goodman of Trenton, Jamal Taylor of Clarksburg,
and James Arlowe of Freehold; the rap duo of Terrell "Rave"
Powell and Kwame "Swaggz" Picou; and dancers Victor Ruiz
of East Windsor and James Lockhart of Trenton.
The panel of
judges for the finale featured MCCC faculty and staff who specialize
in communications and theater: Monique Simón and Kathy Paluscio,
members of MCCC's communications faculty; M. Kitty Getlik, artistic
director of Kelsey Theatre; and Terrence Carter, JKC student activities
adviser/counselor. Participating as judges on previous evenings
were English faculty member Dr. Donna Richardson-Hall and Theatre
Program Coordinator Jody Person, who conceived and produced the
"Searching for the Stars" event. Each judge offered constructive
critiques to help contestants further develop their performance
songwriter and winner Kelly Carvin
with MC Post Midnight.
left, finalists John Meadows, Kwame Picou, Terrell
Powell, Jamal Taylor, Randy Kelly, Dechantel Goodman, James Lockhart,
Kelly Carvin and Victor Ruiz with MC
Post Midnight. Not pictured: James Arlowe.
and staff who supported the event included, from left, the Apollo
Theater's Vanessa Rogers, MCCC Theatre Prog. Coord. Jody Person,
VP Beverly Richardson, faculty member Kathy Paluscio, MCCC President
Pat Donohue, faculty member Monique Simon, Kelsey Theatre Artistic
Director Kitty Getlik and JKC Advisor Terrance Carter.
a high tech sizzle to the event were Mercer's Entertainment Technology
students, who created lighting and sound under the direction of faculty
member Bob Terrano. MCCC's Television students, under the direction of
instructor Steve Voorhees, filmed the show and interviewed contestants
for Mercer's MCTV news show, which is aired on the college's cable channel
Jody Person, "Searching for the Stars is a fantastically exciting
venue for students and community members to showcase their talents, but
it's also a tool for learning. Mercer's Arts and Communications faculty
members have devoted their academic and professional lives to the performing
and fine arts. Our aim is to serve students and community members. Supplementing
what our students are learning in the classroom, Searching for the Stars
has been an amazing opportunity for this learning to take place at an
actual community event."
"The students did a great job operating the lighting and sound,"
added Diane Campbell, executive dean for Student Affairs. "Everyone
worked together beautifully and there was a lot of learning going on among
"Mercer is doing so much for the community by reaching out in this
way," said MCCC student Zadewine Kemah, a second-year Communication
major who attended the finale. "When people have something positive
like this to do, it helps keep them away from negativity activity. Mercer
wants all of its students to succeed. The performers were excellent."
on her judging experience, Dr. Richardson-Hall applauded the college for
its efforts. "My husband and I felt a sense of pride in the amazing
politeness of the audience, the professionalism of the MC, the high-tech
sound and lighting, and the overall ambiance," she said. "I
have a feeling that this event is just the first of many to come."
Post Midnight concurred. "The energy was electrifying," he said.
"All who performed had heart and drive. For them, it was not the
death of a dream but only the beginning. It was an honor and a pleasure
to be here."
more "Searching for the Stars" photos, click here.
Return to What's New