Five Local Acts Chosen to Perform at the National Cherry Blossom Festival
By Rachel Rose Hartman
Five local vocalists on Monday night impressed a panel of celebrity judges to secure a spot to perform at this spring's National Cherry Blossom Festival parade.
Eighteen finalists in the three categories of youth, a capella, and pop, soul and R&B, went head-to-head at the Hard Rock Cafe in Washington, D.C. for the festival's first-ever Sing Into Spring Competition, which was hosted by American Idol's Justin Guarini.
“The National Cherry Blossom Festival unites our local community, and it was incredible to work with such tremendous vocal talent in our first-ever Sing Into Spring competition,” said National Cherry Blossom Festival President Diana Mayhew. “Each finalist demonstrated extraordinary talent and immense passion for the performing arts as they took the stage yesterday evening, and we are very excited to have the chosen vocalists join us in making this year’s annual Parade even more dynamic.”
Judges, including Joe Coleman of The Platters, Louise Robinson of Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Darik Kristofer of 94.7 Fresh FM, selected the following five local performers:
-Alan Gendreau (Washington, D.C.): Gendreau compares his style to that of Michael Bublé. The current D.C. resident received a full football scholarship to Middle Tennessee State University.
-Ashley Brown (Mount Ranier, Md.): Brown is an R&B/pop artist who is preparing for the release of her debut album "Dear Diary."
-Kelvin Dukes (Burtonsville, Md.): Dukes is an eight-year-old who has been singing and performing since the age of 3. Dukes was additionally chosen to be the featured performer for the festival's Youth Choir.
-The GW Vibes (Washington, D.C.): This co-ed a capella group was founded in 1999 at George Washington University.
-Reverb (Washington, D.C.): This award-winning a capella group performs an annual "Black History in Harmony" educational musical for kids K-12.
The five winners will join an exciting parade lineup which includes celebrity entertainers, marching bands, floats, giant balloons and more. The parade will be held Saturday, April 12 and is presented by Events DC.
The parade is free and open to the public, but grandstand tickets are now on sale at nationalcherryblossomfestival.org, Tunestub.com (search National Cherry Blossom Festival), or by calling 1-800-927-0939.
The 2014 National Cherry Blossom Festival, sponsored in part by the DowntownDC BID, runs from March 20-April 13 and bills itself as the nation's greatest springtime celebration. The festival commemorates the 102nd anniversary of the gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, D.C.