Kean Quest Talent Search

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By Robin Taylor

Singing sensation Jackie Evancho got her start at the Kean Theatre, competing in what’s now known as Kean Quest Talent Search, a popular local singing competition in Gibsonia. Evancho was first runner up in 2008 and again in 2009, before going on to national acclaim in 2010 on America’s Got Talent, where she came in second place at the age of 10.
In 2004, when Kean Quest started, American Idol was the most popular show on television, and the vocal competition was seen as a fun way to raise money for St. Barnabas Charities. Unlike American Idol, there are no Simon Cowell’s on the judge’s panel. The judges score each contestant’s performance, but do not comment afterwards or share the scores with the contestants.
Kean Quest is a fun, friendly competition and is not meant to criticize anyone personally or discourage development. We know the contestants are amateurs who are learning how to perform and we want this to be a positive experience. For many of them, this is the first time they will have ever performed before a live audience.
This year’s competition began in January, although it’s not too late to sign up. There is another preliminary youth round in February and two more preliminary rounds in March. The top scorers in the preliminary rounds move on to the semi-finals on Sunday, March 30. The winners from the semi-finals will compete in the Youth Championship on Friday, April 11.
There is also an adult competition on Friday, April 4. Anyone 19 and up is allowed to participate as long as they are an amateur and are not currently under a recording contract.
Contestants are judged on three factors: talent, stage presence and presentation. The audience also gets to vote and will select a winner from each round.
The grand prize includes a recording session at Audible Images, a Grammy award-winning recording studio. The winners will also get professional headshots that can be used by an agent for promotions, if they plan to pursue a career in music.
Every year, the prestigious Jackie Evancho Award is given to the runner-up who tried the hardest and showed the most promise. Jackie is usually on stage to personally present the award to the winner.
This year, Evancho is planning a Latin American concert tour and plans to attend the Kean Quest finals as long as her tour dates don’t conflict. Since her success on America’s Got Talent, Jackie has issued 5 albums, including a platinum and a gold album.
Jackie isn’t the only recognizable face to get her start on Kean Quest. Sarah Marince, the young lady with the big smile, who is featured in the Eat ‘n Park restaurant chain commercials, also was a finalist in 2006.
While Kean Quest is a competition, it is first and foremost a charity fundraiser. The money raised through ticket sales will benefit St. Barnabas Charities. The St. Barnabas Free Care Fund provided more than $4.5 million in free care last year to patients in need.
The goal of the friendly competition is to find a fun way for kids and adults to get involved in this charity fundraiser. The signature sponsor of the 11th annual Kean Quest Talent Search is Trib Total Media.
Event sponsors include: Armstrong, Audible Images, Beautiful Buys Thrift Shoppes, Consolidated Communications, Cookson Peirce Wealth Management, DKYS&B Attorneys at Law, Donner Farber & Assoc., Gordon Food Service, Farmers Bank, In Tune With The Arts, NET Xperts, Northern Connection Magazine, Paracca Interiors, Parks Moving and Storage, Rudolph Auto Repair, Schellhaas Funeral Home, Subway, Wells Fargo and WPXI.

2014 Kean Quest Schedule
Youth Preliminary Rounds
Sunday, January 26
Sunday, February, 16
Sunday, March 2
Sunday, March 16
Youth Semi-Finals
Sunday, March 30
Adult Championship
Friday, April 4
Youth Championship
Friday, April 11

To register, call 724-625-3770 or visit www.KeanTheatre.com. There is a $30 registration fee to enter.