They came. They rocked. And they were chosen to move forward.
The Phillies have announced that 15 fans - all from Pennsylvania or New Jersey - were selected to move onto the Final Audition Round in the Phillies "R U Game? Talent Search," which will be held on Sunday, March 30 at Citizens Bank Park, during the team's Paint the Town Red festivities. The 15 finalists will get the chance to sing the national anthem on-field (weather permitting) using the ballpark sound system in front of a panel of celebrity judges, all with local ties to the Philadelphia music scene. WOGL 98.1's Breakfast Club host Frank Lewis will serve as emcee for the event.
Celebrity judges include: James Poyser , multi-Grammy award winning songwriter, musician and multi-platinum producer as well as longtime collaborator and member of The Roots, with live performances on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; Kathy Sledge, international recording artist, member of the Grammy-nominated group Sister Sledge with smash hits including "We are Family" and "He's the Greatest Dancer," entrepreneur, philanthropist and Philadelphia native; Bernard Parker, multi-platinum record producer, has worked with artists Sting, Jay-Z and Eve, as well as Philadelphia philanthropist; Dan Reed, WXPN music director & afternoon host with over 20 years of radio experience; and Jill Moyer , choral director/music teacher in the Wissahickon School District with over 33 years of teaching experience and sister of Phillies broadcaster and 2008 World Series Champion, Jamie Moyer.
Following the Final Audition Round, the top five singers will be announced and invited back to Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies Home Opener on Monday, April 7th for the Final Reveal! The Grand Prize Winner, who will sing the national anthem prior to the 7:05 p.m. Phillies vs New York Mets game on April 30, will be announced during a live TV broadcast on NBC10, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., prior to the Modell's Sporting Goods Phillies' Home Opener against the Milwaukee Brewers that day. Four runners up will also be chosen to sing God Bless America at one of the following 2014 Phillies games: May 25, June 29, August 10 and August 24.
The Phillies hosted the first "R U Game? Talent Search" auditions on Saturday, March 8, 2014, where nearly 200 fans sang their hearts out in hopes of getting the callback.
"We saw a pool of talented performers during the R U Game? Talent Search preliminary auditions which made it difficult to choose fifteen finalists," said Chris Long, Director, Entertainment. "We want to thank all of the fans who participated in the preliminary auditions and we're excited to see the finalists perform on the field just as they would in a game situation."
PHILLIES "R U GAME? TALENT SEARCH" FINALISTS
- Marley Alig of Philadelphia, Pa. - Started singing at the age of three, studying voice since she was 14 and has performed the national anthem at various sporting events including at a Reading Royals Ice Hockey game but is ready to move up the big leagues. Singing runs in the family for Alig as her great aunt previously performed at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Marley is currently a student at Temple University, Fox School of Business working on a degree in marketing and resides in South Philadelphia.
- ARIA of Wyncote, Pa. - The trio has only been singing together for a year but they have been performers all their lives. Lex, Rickie and Allonie are truly talented with backgrounds ranging in theater, rap/emcee experience and salsa music. Currently in the studio working on their first EP, they are hoping to break into the music scene and the R U Game? Talent Search is just another step to stardom.
- Timothy Bolognone of Philadelphia, Pa. - A ministry major and music minor studying voice in college, Bolognone did a little bit of everything - operas, musicals, choral performances and even sang in a barbershop quartet. With performances in NBC's Clash of the Choirs in 2007 in Patti LaBelle's choir and a runner up in the Philadelphia Eagles anthem contest in 2009 under his belt - he's ready to win it all this time around.
- Jenna Bramble of Edgewater Park, NJ - Bramble learned how to sing the national anthem at the age of 10. From that point on, she has dreamed of singing it at a Phillies game and hopes to get her chance through the Phillies R U Game? Talent Search. While she doesn't sing professionally, the former wedding singer and karaoke bar enthusiast does enjoy performing for friends and family and most of all - for fun. Bramble is a public relations manager for the tech start-up and lives with her husband, Frank, and their dog, Chase Mutley (pictured above), in Edgewater Park, NJ.
- John Paul Cappiello of Drexel Hill, Pa. - A well-rounded musician, Cappiello has performed professionally for over twenty years, singing everything from classical and opera to musical theater to original rock and pop music. He has performed as a Tenor soloist in Mozart's Requiem with the Chamber Soloists of Philadelphia in addition to rock performances on the legendary stage of NYC's CBGB club and recording several albums of original music. Cappiello is expected to release a new album this summer which was is collaboration with a childhood friend.
- Chris Earhart of Enola, Pa. - A classically-trained opera singer with 25 years of experience, Earhart has performed with various Central Pennsylvania symphonies. He listened to a Pavarotti album and was immediately inspired to become an opera singer which has brought him all the way to the R U Game? Talent Search finals.
- Teena Handline of Philadelphia, Pa. - Handline was a soloist in her family and has been singing since she could speak. Her choir teacher encouraged her talents and from there she performed in theater, pageants, and regional choirs. Currently studying law at Temple University with an anticipated graduation in May, Handline also records music on the side.
- Nicole Johnson of Piscataway, NJ - Johnson may have started as a dancer and earned a degree from the University of Washington but she has also dabbled in acting with roles in movies including Tower Heist. A former member of the military, she has sung with various Army and veteran programs. She opened a performing arts school in North Jersey teaching dance, drama and vocals. Johnson, a single mom of three, is currently working on her second degree in nutrition and works as her own boss in a fitness company.
- Aaron Krasting of West Deptford, NJ - As a child, Krasting's parents would entertain him by playing Broadway music records, specifically Oklahoma and The King and I. His first chance to perform in semi-professional theater was at age 12 when he played the role of Kurt in The Sound of Music. Krasting's love of music continued through adulthood as he is currently a music teacher in South Jersey.
- Elizabeth Krestchmer of Newtown Square, Pa. - Singing and making up songs since she could talk, Kretschmer is a natural at the art of vocal performance. Coming from an artistic family of ballet dancers, artists and videographers, she writes, records and produces her own songs in an effort to follow her dreams. Kretschmer dedicates all of her performances to her true inspiration - her mom, who recently became ill, but inspires her daughter to follow her passion to the fullest of her capabilities.
- Kelly LaVigna of Mays Landing, NJ - A Jersey girl and longtime Phillies fan, LaVigna has sang professionally for years but hopes to fulfill a life-long dream to sing the national anthem at a Phillies game through the RU Game? Talent Search competition. Proud mom to her beautiful seven-year-old daughter, Lauren, LaVigna is co-owner of Route 9 Entertainment and has performed as a studio demo singer for artists Brandy and Monica, multi-time winner at The Apollo Theater's Amateur Night as well as live performances at Atlantic City casinos. She's now ready to premiere on-field at Citizens Bank Park.
- Valerie Martin of Philadelphia, Pa. - Martin has enthusiasm that is seriously contagious. A performer from the start, she began singing in church at the age of three and never stopped. A fan of Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson, Martin looks up to women with outrageously powerful vocals for her inspiration. Her day job may be at Ballard Spahr, but she loves performing with her husband in their band, which they've been a part of for over 28 years, at local Philadelphia venues.
- Phil's Harmonix of Princeton, NJ - This quartet made up of freshmen from the Westminster Choir College, part of Rider University, who just met last semester. While practicing for a test a few days before the preliminary audition, the group decided they liked how they sounded and would try out together. If they win, the April 30 th game would be their first public appearance together as a group.
- Cyrus Samson of Millville, NJ - Samson got his singing chops from his mom, who was an aspiring country singer. She encouraged him to sing and perform, which led him to LA where he discovered a love of musical theater. Now a NJ resident, Samson has most recently starred in a production of Les Misérables as Jean Valjean and aspires to follow in the footsteps of Hugh Jackman and master both the theater and film worlds.
- Brandon Stradford of Morganville, NJ - Stradford has performed the national anthem previously for minor league affiliates of the New York Yankees and New York Mets but hopes to be called up to the majors and sing for the Phillies.