By MIKE CHAIKEN
If you’re looking to launch a career as a singer, legendary R&B vocalist Jeffrey Osborne is waiting for you to say “Hand Me the Mic.”
Jeffrey Osborne and his charity, The Jeffrey Osborne Celebrity Classic golf tournament, have teamed up with Foxwoods Resort Casino and Tanger Outlets to hold a contest to find the next big teen singing sensation.
Osborne, former lead singer of L.T.D. (“(Everytime I Turn Around) Back in Love Again”) and a renowned solo artist in his own right (“On the Wings of Love,” “The Woo Woo Song”), said the competition is intended as a way have 13 to 19 year old youths come in and show their singing chops. The finalists will get a chance to perform live on stage at the Grand Theater at Foxwoods in Mashantucket during the classic’s celebrity comedy night to see who wins a $10,000 grand prize, said Osborne. The competition winners also may have the opportunity jump the line to get onto “America’s Got Talent” or “The Voice.”
The competition begins in earnest this month, said Osborne and runs through June. Competitions are planned at Tanger on April 21, May 19, June 16, and July 21 at Tanger Outlets. There will be three winners from each round, and a tenth finalist voted in via text, advancing to the finals.
To be considered for the competition, Osborne said teens need to send in a three minute video of them singing. From the videos, judges will determine who gets into the competition.
“I wish that when I was growing up, I had this opportunity,” said Osborne.
As the teens prepare their tape or get ready to take the stage for Hand Me the Mic, Osborne had some advice. Although Hand Me The Mic, first of all, is a singing competition, Osborne said vocals aren’t the only criteria for choosing who goes on to the finals. The judges will be looking for stage presence. “You can look at a young person and see that there is room for potential, said Osborne.
“We went the kids to come and be comfortable with what they’re doing,” said Osborne. “Play to your strengths.”
Music has opened a lot of doors for Osborne. He started as a child prodigy at age 13 playing drums in Rhode Island. He got his first professional job as a drummer for the O’Jays at the age of 15. From there, his career took off.
“That (job with the O’Jays) got me going with the inspiration and motivation I needed,” said Osborne.
Osborne said the Celebrity Classic, a golf tournament that attracts celebrities such as Magic Johnson, Smoky Robinson, Dr. J., Johnny Gill, and Bell Biv DeVoe, Cedric the Entertainer, and Sugar Ray Leonard, started eight years ago. Even though Osborne calls Los Angeles home now, he grew up in Rhode Island and wanted to hold the event near his home. The tournament originally was held in Providence, R.I. But last year, Osborne said, it was brought to Foxwoods to take advantage of the proximity of the casino’s golf course to other facilities such as a hotel and a theater.
The event will be held July 29 to 31.
The singing competition finals will be held as part of the comedy night held in conjunction with the golf tournament. And the young singers will be judged by some of the celebrities on hand that night, said Osborne.
The whole mission of Jeffrey Osborne’s Celebrity Classic is centered around helping youth. Among the charities that it supports are the Boys and Girls Clubs.
If you’re interested in competiting in Hand Me The Mic, send your video audition to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, go to www.JeffreyObsorneClassic.com