Irwin teens advance in talent contest
Two Irwin teens sang their way into the second round of a popular talent competition.
Claire Fonzo, 14, and Samantha Blank, 17, plan to compete in the semifinals against a dozen other performers on March 17 in the Kean Quest Talent Search in Richland Township.
Claire competed against 30 vocalists from across southwestern Pennsylvania on Jan. 27, while Samantha competed against 22 others in a preliminary round on Feb. 24. The show helps raise funds for the St. Barnabas Health System.
The semifinalists were chosen over the course of five preliminary rounds, with the final preliminary competition scheduled for Sunday, said Megan Hoffman, marketing communications coordinator for St. Barnabas.
They are competing for a chance to win an opportunity to record in a professional recording studio, a photo shoot and voice lessons, Hoffman said.
The Kean Quest Talent Search, then called Kean Idol, helped launch the career of 12-year-old vocalist Jackie Evancho, Hoffman said. She was named first runner-up both times she competed.
Evancho gained national fame by performing on NBC's “America's Got Talent” in 2010, when she took second place.
Organizers of the Kean Quest Talent Search recently began giving the Jackie Evancho Award, acknowledging the courage and perseverance of one contestant.
“Jackie will be there in person to give out the award on April 5,” Hoffman said.
This year marks the second time Claire has advanced in the contest. She advanced to the finals but did not place in the top three performers, she said.
“There were a lot of really good talents of all ages and singing different styles of music,” Claire said. “I was a little nervous because there were people who had performed in previous years with lots of experience.”
Claire said she began singing when she was in the fourth grade and has been taking voice lessons. She also performed at Covenant Hall in Irwin on several occasions, she said.
Each day, she dedicates a portion of each day to practicing for the show, Claire said.
“To get ready, I sing every day, and work on my movements on stage,” she said. “I've been working on (singing) techniques at my voice lessons.”
Samantha said she always has enjoyed singing and first performed in public a few years ago at Norwin Alliance Church. She also took several voice lessons and sang with Norwin High School's chorus, she said.
“I just like singing, since I grew up around a lot of music,” she said. “This is a great experience, and I'm excited to compete.”
During the semifinals, Claire said, she plans to sing “Bubbly,” by Colbie Callait, while Samantha plans to take a different route.
“I'm planning to sing an Alice Cooper song a cappella,” Samantha said. “I don't know which song, but there won't be a chance anybody else will be singing one of his songs.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.