By Christine Bryant
The 40th anniversary of Arts in the Alley will feature a different form of art not featured at the event before – singing.
Inspired by national singing competitions like “The Voice” and “American Idol,” “The Voice of Grove City” will give local artists the opportunity to display their vocal talents in front of a live audience during Arts in the Alley, said Trent Soles, one of the competition’s organizers.
“The idea was inspired by how the Arts in the Alley has encouraged so many artists and crafters for over 40 years, and the one art form we hadn’t awarded yet is music, which is a unifying art form loved by everyone,” he said.
To enter the competition created by the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, contestants must fill out an online form found at voiceofgrovecity.com and submit a video featuring the contestant’s vocal abilities.
There are no restrictions on residency; however, contestants must be 13 and older.
A panel of judges will review the submitted videos and select 25 contestants to advance to the first of three live rounds.
The first live round will be held Sept. 20 at the First Baptist Church of Grove City, 3301 Orders Road, Grove City. The first round will be open to the public, with a cost of $5 per individual to attend.
From the first round, judges will select a minimum of 10 performers who will move on to compete during the second round on Sept. 21 at Arts in the Alley. A minimum of five contestants will then move on to compete for a $2,500 prize in the final round of live judging Sept. 22 at Arts in the Alley.
Both the second and final rounds are open to the public and free to attend.
Organizers are still determining times for each of the rounds and will update the event website once finalized.
The cost to enter the competition is $25 until the deadline of Aug. 31.
“We’re really excited and it has already generated a lot of excitement in our community,” said Marilyn Reiner, events manager for Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce. “This is our first attempt, so we’ll grow from this and it will be something that will be great for Arts in the Alley.”
The competition also will provide a valuable experience for those pursuing a music career or who have an interest in entering other future competitions, she said.
“It will be a great learning experience for those who want to get a taste of what competing is like so they can be a little bit more prepared and confident,” Reiner said.
For Soles, who presented the idea to the chamber board, it is an opportunity to share some of what he and his family has learned with others looking for the same experiences.
Trent’s son, Blake Soles, who is serving as emcee and co-producer, has entered several contests on a national level, including “America’s Got Talent,” “X-Factor,” “The Voice” and “American Idol.”
In fact, Blake’s original song audition aired on national television in 2014 on “American Idol,” and in a span of two years, he won local Ohio competitions such as “The Voice of Ohio.” He later served as a mentor and traveled the state performing at festivals with the top 10 finalists from “Ohio Idol.”
Those experiences gave Soles and his son an insider’s perspective on the positive outcomes a vocal competition like “The Voice of Grove City” can provide, he said.
“Blake and I loved being able to encourage other singers through these often rigorous competitions that could easily become a bad experience for them,” Soles said. “With a little encouragement and instruction, they could learn something to empower them to use their gift for encouraging others, too.”
This year’s Arts in the Alley event will take place Sept. 21 and 22. For more information, go to gcchamber.org/arts-in-the-alley. For more information on “The Voice of Grove City,” go to voiceofgrovecity.com.