The Rally Foundation, an Atlanta non-profit which raises funds for research to cure childhood cancer, is hosting a special fundraiser Friday night, March 21, at Buckhead Theatre featuring four former "American Idol" contestants.
Five kids will sing: four are childhood cancer survivors and a fifth will sing in honor of a sibling who had passed.
The organizer is 12-year-old Emily Roach, who has spent the last year putting this together with the Rally Foundation as part of a community service project for her bat mitvah.
Roach's mom and dad, Alyson and Shane, have been active in the Rally Foundation for seven years. Alyson, a former sales and marketing executive at Coca Cola, helped her daughter put together the event.
"We all love music and we love Rally," Emily explained. "So we decided to do a concert."
She found out season 4 runner up Bo Bice was hosting an art show. She tracked him down in Canton and handed him her invite letter. He bought in immediately and convinced season 10's Haley Reinhart and his fourth place buddy from season four Anthony Fedorov to join in.
"Emily has a great vision," said Bice, who now splits his time doing solo shows and lead singer of Blood, Sweat and Tears. (If you recall, he sang "Spinning Wheel"on the show.). "And I have deep respect for the parents of these kids who have cancer. To see the resilience of the children going through chemo. They keep the parents going."
Through another Rally Kid (as they call kids with cancer), the group was able to procure season 10 runner up Lauren Alaina, who is from Georgia.
Here are the five kids:
- Mary Tankersley, who has had bone cancer, will sing "Pray" by Justin Bieber.
- Tori Svenson, who has had brain cancer , will sing "Beautiful Day" by U2.
- Bailey Moody, who has battled bone cancer, will sing "Wagon Wheel" by Darius Rucker.
- Jenna Rohrback, whose sister Alexa died of bone cancer at age 11, will sing "Anyway" by Martina McBride because it was one of the last songs she learned in musical therapy.
- Andrew Vassil, who has fought off brain cancer, will sing "Even the Stars Fall For You" by "Idol" judge Keith Urban.
The four "Idols" will be celebrity judges, though they will judge them the way Paula Abdul judges, not Simon Cowell. The kids will be either awesome or really awesome. People in the audience will be encouraged to vote on a special app and each vote will represent a donation. So like "Idol," stuffing the ballot will be encouraged.
"There are no winners and losers," said Mark Owens, the emcee who has been active with the group for five years. "I'll be like Ryan Seacrest - about the same height but bigger and balder, with much better teeth." He did a run-through with the kids last Sunday and said a couple of singers "really blew me away." To him, "this is a celebration of life."
Dean Crowe, the co-creator of the Rally Foundation, said she expects the "Idol' singers to join the kids on stage for a finale song at the end of the show.
Her organization gives grants to cancer researchers. Crowe expects to donate $1.2 million this year.
Roach, in advance of the show, has already sold 600 tickets and raised an impressive $35,000, nearly $20,000 from sponsors and another $15,000 from an on-line media campaign that resulted in donations from North Dakota and Texas.
"It's crazy what she's done," Crowe said, with admiration.
Emily said they've had four rehearsals and it's been a lot of fun.
The family has been asked already about doing it again next year. At first, Shane said, they were dead set against it but as they've seen how it's bonded their family and how much support they've received, they are now more inclined to make this an annual fundraising event.
And if you go, bring a box of tissues. "Someone joked that we should get Kleenex as a sponsor," Alyson said.
You can donate and/or buy $10 tickets at a special www.rallyidol.org website.
Shane said he has handled the Facebook page and the website. Emily has been focused more on Twitter and Instagram. Shane isn't policing Emily's promotional work on those apps because he is more a Facebook guy. "I'm not that hip!" he said.
Here is the YouTube promo:
Here is the organizer Emily Roach talking about her inspiration for this event:
Here is Bo (with short hair!) and Anthony encouraging people to donate:
Season 8 "American Idol' winner Kris Allen returns to Eddie's Attic April 2, 2014. Tickets are $18 with a meet and greet upgrade at $60.
Season 5 runner-up Katharine McPhee, most recently on NBC's "Splash," will be starring in an ABC Hallmark Hall of Fame film "In My Dreams" with Mike Vogel and JoBeth Williams. It airs Sunday, April 20 from 9 to 11 p.m.
Here's the premise, according to ABC's press release:
Nick (Mike Vogel) and Natalie (Katharine McPhee) are the perfect couple, but there are a couple of things blocking their path to romantic bliss. First, they’ve never actually met, except in their dreams. Second, they have precisely seven days to turn those sweet dreams into a blissful reality.
Vogel, who is the male love interest opposite of McPhee, explained:
“There’s an old wives’ tale involving the Hayward Fountain in our mythical town,” he recounts. “If you make a wish, then toss a coin in the fountain, you’ll meet the man or woman of your dreams, and you’ll have the most fantastic dreams for seven nights. But if the dream couple haven’t actually met in the real world before that time limit expires – well, it’s all over. So it’s really a race against time.”
The Hollywood Reporter also reports that McPhee has been cast in a CBS pilot "Scorpion."
Based on the life of Walter O’Brien, the drama revolves around Walter (Body of Proof’s Elyes Gabel) an eccentric genius and his international network of super-geniuses who form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age.
McPhee will play Paige, a working-class hero and diner waitress who understands geniuses who becomes a nanny of sorts and translator for Walter’s super team of socially misunderstood masterminds.
My Top 10 power rankings for "Idol" going into the top 10, which will be songs since 2010.
1. Caleb Johnson. He has been the most consistent of all the contestants to date. He may not be terribly original but he has the pipes, the presence and a firm point of view that resonates with the older audience "Idol" now has.
2. Jena Irene. Things get pretty dicey after Caleb because nobody else has shown real consistency to date after three weeks of performances. Jena moves up based on her strong outing last week. Something about her tells me she knows what she's doing and is working to improve herself each week. She's got a little moxie that is starting to translate on camera.
3. Alex Watson. He is a bit one note but it's not a bad note, given his quirky, leg-shaking singer songwriter vibe. I can't imagine he needs to or wants to change that in any tangible way. The only problem is he may not be able to surprise us either.
4. Majesty Rose. She was in my top 2 for a bit but after two shaky performances in a row, she isn't quite as strong as we may have expected early on. She is very young and she is having a hard time picking songs that work for her. Her choices have been all over the place. She may not know who she is yet, a major disadvantage on a show like this.
5. Jessica Meuse. Unlike Majesty, Jessica seems to know who she is but she's having a hard time translating it on a big stage. As Keith told her last week, she needs to emote in a different way on "Idol' compared to a smoky bar, a place she's used to. She has to figure out a way to properly connect with the TV audience, calm herself down and allow her voice to breathe.
6. Sam Woolf. I know, I know. I said he was all but guaranteed the "Idol" crown three weeks ago. Boy, I was premature on that count. Like Majesty, he's very very green and not quite ready for prime time. It now comes down to his ability to adjust and mature in a short amount of time. He did try to stretch himself last week with the Beatles, which was admirable, but it landed him in the bottom three. Tweens and teens can only take him so far now that the show's viewing audience demographics are skewing so much older.
7. C.J. Harris. He had one of the best performances of the week last week but unlike Jena, I'm not sure he has the ability to make it work week in and week out. It seems like he's only good in very particular instances for his bluesy, soulful, country mix. I hope he can find his groove and keep it up because I'd like to see him around longer.
8. Malaya Watson. It's hard not to like her as a person but she needs more seasoning. Her vocals lack depth and maturity even when she's in tune. And her stage presence is more nervous kinetic energy as opposed to positive, confidence-inducing energy.
9. Dexter Roberts. In many ways, I liked Ben Briley more than Dexter in the battle of the country dudes. But Ben blew it last week. I just don't know what folks see in Dexter. He's a solid bar band singer as I've opined week in, week out. His "Sweet Home Alabama" bore that out. But as Keith has said multiple times, what's so special about him?
10. MK Nobillette. She seems very sweet and mellow and has a pretty enough voice. But her stage presence, if you'd even call it that, is weak and non-effectual. Charisma is not something you can conjure up overnight and she probably will never have it. She tried this past week and did better but doing better isn't really good enough on a show like this.