A great place to start

Published 7:58 pm Thursday, March 10, 2011

With the popularity of the television shows “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Dancing with the Stars” and an ever-expanding schedule of similar programs, talent shows have come into their own in America.

Gone are the days when winning the school talent show meant only a cheap trophy and a $25 savings bond. Today’s talent show winners have good reason to wonder whether their skills can carry them to Hollywood, Las Vegas, New York, Nashville or any number of other locations where raw talent is developed into a marketable stage persona. Every night on some network or another, they see people who were relative nobodies get catapulted into the spotlight.

In Suffolk, people with aspirations for the grand stage or the screen have a wonderful opportunity to display their talents. The city’s annual F.A.M.E. Showcase gives them a chance to test their talents in front of the home crowd, a chance to refine their acts before hitting the road for the unforgiving environment that awaits artists and performers in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and the other arts communities across the nation.


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F.A.M.E., which stands for Future Artists, Musicians and Entertainers, is in its ninth season, with this year’s performances set for May 6 and 7 at Lakeland High School. The program features performances by up to 22 students who are 5 to 19 years of age. The $5 audition fee is used to fund scholarships for graduating seniors in Suffolk each year.

F.A.M.E. participants have gone on to big things after leaving Suffolk. Josh Mizelle, a native of the city and a rising star in the national music scene, told a reporter recently that participating in the program kick-started his music career.

“It made a major impact in my life,” he said in a February interview. “It gave me somewhere to perform and display my talents to the public.”

Keep your calendars clear for the May 6 and 7 event. If you’re a performer, it will be a good chance to get some experience onstage in front of an audience. And if you’re just a spectator, you never know if the local star you see on the Lakeland stage might one day make it big. Everyone’s got to start somewhere.