Teens Hit High Notes In Music Contest

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Two Carle Place teens are getting the chance to break into the musical big time, after making huge waves at the recent Your Big Break showcase series at the Gold Coast Arts Center.

Now in its third year, Your Big Break allows talented singers from all over Long Island an opportunity to win over industry experts, for a chance at gaining a priceless foothold in the music world. The contest drew over 1,000 entries this year, which was narrowed down to 16 teens. Two entrants—Carle Place’s Emily Lutz and Sydney Perruzza—blew the judges and audience away during the show, and are now one step closer to achieving musical stardom.

Lutz started singing when she was 8 years old, inspired by her cousins who always sang around her, going to Broadway shows and the show “American Idol.” She’s participated in local singing competitions, including ones at Carle Place High School, Reach for the Stars at Eisenhower Park and Star Shine in Patchogue, but Your Big Break is the biggest singing competition she’s ever done.

Emily Lutz
Emily Lutz

“It was a really good experience. I got to perform with people I’m unfamiliar with, and I knew it was a huge opportunity to be a part of this competition,” said 15-year-old Lutz.

Participating in such a large scale competition would be nerve-wracking for anyone, but there was added pressure for Lutz who was sick the day of the performance. Despite not being at her best, Lutz was still able to impress the judges and audience enough to win second place and advance to the finals on Saturday, April 18.

“When I found out I made it to finals, I was very excited because I knew I had an extra chance to show the judges what I sound like when I’m not sick,” Lutz said. “During soundcheck I was nervous because I didn’t sound that great, but I pushed through it.”

During the finals, she will compete against three others, including the first place winner Annika; and the two winners from the second round of semi-finals on March 21. She’ll have to perform four songs to sing for the judges, but lucky for Lutz, she’ll have the help of an all-star mentor to guide her.

The Long Island-based mentors include Ryan Star (singer of Top 10 single “Stay A While”), songwriters John Hampson and Ido Zmishlany, and producer Steve Thompson. Each mentor will be paired with one finalist, and help them pick songs to perform and work on their vocal skills.

“I am hoping the mentor helps me improve my performing and assists me in choosing the correct type of songs for my voice,” said Lutz.

The overall contest winner will get the chance to open for a national act at a major venue such as The Space at Westbury, recording time at The Loft Sound Studio, a feature on Reverbnation.com, Online TV streaming opportunities, musical equipment, mentoring at Five Towns College, a photo and video shoot, a publicity campaign and more.

Sydney Perruzza
Sydney Perruzza

15-year-old Perruzza’s performance was so good, the judges just couldn’t get enough. Originally scheduled to perform at the semi-finals on March 21, Perruzza got a call on Jan. 30, asking her if she could fill an open spot during the next day’s competition. Though it was last minute, she said yes.

Perruzza is used to performing, having competed and winning both Carle Place Idol and Long Island Idol, but says that Your Big Break was still a nerve wracking experience.

“But I felt like I could do it. So I put myself out there,” she said.

And it’s a good thing she did. Though she wasn’t one of the top two finalists, Perruzza impressed the judges (who counted for two-thirds of the vote) and audience (who was the other third of the votes) so much, she was invited back to compete in the semi-finals on March 21.

“I had the most audience votes out of anyone there,” said Perruzza. “That was really cool, to know that I had an impact on the audience.”

On March 21, she’ll return to the Gold Coast Arts Center to compete again for a chance to make it to the finals. Though she has a better understanding of what to expect, she needs to prepare two new songs. The Carle Place tenth grader says making it to the finals and winning the competition would be a huge step.

“I want to pursue music later on in the future [so this] would broaden what I’m trying to accomplish,” said Perruzza.

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