Kara DioGuardi’s time as an “American Idol” judge in 2009 and 2010 may have been relatively brief but it gave her the impetus to do something special to help young people.
The Grammy-nominated songwriter and Westchester native has used her experience from the show and in the music industry to launch a vocal competition featuring young talent in New England where she now lives and in the tristate area through the nonprofit organization Inspired Nation that DioGuardi co-founded.
In both locations, Inspired Nation’s vocal competition not only showcases promising young talent and provide them with important direction but the events raise money for local charities that help youngsters in need.
Paramount Hudson Valley in Peekskill will be the venue for the second annual Tri-State Rocks on Sunday, Oct. 28, where 12- to 21-year-olds will be competing for small cash prizes and a Berklee College of Music summer sessions scholarships, where DioGuardi also teaches.
“It gave me the idea to put together a nonprofit to celebrate youth,” said DioGuardi of her time on “American Idol.” “While I loved being on the show I wish I had more contact with the contestants. I wish I had been able to give them more feedback and help them with their artistic vision.”
She is able to use her knowledge and her success in the music industry to provide that feedback and help shape tomorrow’s performers.
Inspired Nation also provides a platform to youths to express themselves and chase their dreams, DioGuardi said.
“I just realized that there were so many fine artists out there that they use music to convey their thoughts about the world and that there is a certain power that you have,” she said. “I think they’re underserved in the sense that they don’t really have platforms to tell their stories and they have a lot of great things to say, and especially since they’re going to be inheriting the world, let’s listen to them.”
There is still time for contestants from the tristate area to enter and be considered for the show, DioGuardi said. The deadline for submissions is this Monday, Oct. 22. Anyone interested must submit a videotape of a performance of either an original song or a cover. The video must be no longer than 90 seconds and should be an individual performance with no backing from musicians.
Finalists will be selected on Tuesday, Oct. 23 and notified by e-mail for inclusion in the Oct. 28 show at the Paramount. DioGuardi will be one of the judges along with Atlantic Record President Pete Ganbarg and Leslie Stifelman, the music director of the show “Chicago.”
“Vocal ability is probably the number one thing, but (also) presence, performance and personality,” DioGuardi said of what judges are looking for.
Of equal importance are the four organizations that will split the proceeds from the event. Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, Sunrise Day Camp in Pearl River, Art Start in New York City, which brings creative workshops to children in homeless shelters, and Kids Helping Kids, an outfit that encourages middle school and high school students to create community service projects, will be the beneficiaries.
Last year’s event raised about $55,000 for the participating charities.
DioGuardi said she’s looking forward to the show because it brings the community together to appreciate young talent while helping great causes.
“You know what it is, it’s a family-friendly show,” she said. “So it’s a really great thing for anyone in the area.”
Tickets to Tri-State Rocks are $20 and $30. VIP tickets go for $100. DioGuardi said there are donor tickets available for those who would have difficulty buying tickets. Show time is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The Paramount is located at 1008 Brown St. in Peekskill.
For more information on the show, including tickets, and how to submit entries for consideration, visit www.inspirednation.org.