Hawaii Teens Compete in Johnny Kai's Brown Bags to Stardom

June 14, 2010
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The Brown Bags to Stardom “Back to School” contest of 2009-2010 held its finals on Saturday, January 31 at McKinley High School on the corner of S King & Pensacola St. downtown. That night, parents, fellow classmates, and friends of the performers filed into the auditorium, eager to see what island wide talents the local talent show had in store this year.


The Brown Bags talent contest we know today had spurred off of a smaller segment started by the local radio station KIKI (1-94) in 1980. For those unaware, Brown Bags is a talent show Since, it has begun the careers of many Hawaii based performers, including Glenn Medeiros, Tia Carerre, and most recently the Hawaiian/ Reggae band Kolohe Kai. Medeiros is best known for his famous cover of George Benson's “Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You”, which achieved international popularity in 1987. Carrere grabbed the starring role opposite comedy veterans Dana Carvey (Wayne's World 2, The Master of Disguise) and Mike Meyers (Austin Powers, Shrek) as ”Cassandra”, and also played the voice of Nani in Disney's 2003 animation, Lilo & Stitch. Since winning the 2008-2009 season of Brown Bags, Kolohe Kai has released a full-length album and currently has their single “Ehu Girl” playing on the local Hawaiian music station KCCN FM 100.


“Why is everybody so plastic? Walkin' around like everything is fantastic!/ They wear their painted clown smiles on their faces/ But what they gonna do when it all comes crashing? Crashing!” Kiara Thomas, 12, lead singer of Mililani High School's Apollo Rock began to rap, his infectious enthusiasm and in-your-face lyrics paralleling the heavy riffs played off of guitarist Christopher Blackwell's Gibson. As the audience began to squirm in their seats in excitement at the genius of the collaboration of genres and originality, 17 other acts waited for their turns nervously behind the backdrop and scattered throughout the audience.


With all these nationally successful artists and actors having gotten their start from the Brown Bags to Stardom talent show, it is no wonder the idea of entering has attracted many of Hawaii's aspiring music and dance artists. Especially with modern day technology revolutionizing the competition; final rounds of BBTS are televised and shown on the local stationOC16. It has also taken an American Idol-esque spin, by allowing you to vote for those entering the Music Video contest on their website, brownbags2stardom.com, or via SMS text messaging.


Campbell High School has also had it's share in BBTS recognition: Most recently, Reggae act Mystikal Vibez and Reggae/ Hawaiian act, Smooth Groove. Mystikal Vibez submitted a music video and participated in the live “Back to School” contest, although they were unable to perform at the Finals held on January 30 at MicKinley High School.


“We'd like to produce more quality music,” replied Antonio Augusto, lead vocalist for Smooth Groove.



They are well on their way - this season, Smooth Groove submitted a music video for their song “I'll Wait For You”; during their first year of competing in Brown Bags, they were able to submit two music videos for the BBTS Music Video Contest. Due to the tremendous efforts and support of Saber Media's Sherwin Acidera, c/o '08, Smooth Groove took home 1st Place at the Olelo Youth Exchange 2009, and were awarded best creative music.



“My goal is to help build a new generation of performers from Hawaii,” said Executive Producer of BBTS, Johnny Kai on his fourth year of managing the state - wide contest. As a widely publicized event bringing out the best in Hawaii's students' school spirit, teamwork, and individual talents, the Brown Bags to Stardom talent show has accomplished much more than that.





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