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Jr. Hawaiian Idol preparing kids, young adults for the next level

Updated: 
April 21, 2017 - 1:55am

As Hawaiian Idol marks 14 years showcasing the Big Island’s stars, Jr. Hawaiian Idol continues to grow, preparing kids and young adults for the next level.

“The junior’s even feels like its getting better than the adult competition,” said Summer Carrick, marketing director for KBXtreme. “It’s growing so fast and it’s got so much interest.”

The competition for kids and young adults ages 8-20 was held first in 2016. The decision to give younger adults a “stage” of their own came after many requests, though it was something Carrick said KBXtreme and the organizers of Hawaiian Idol had “always wanted to do.”

“The kids would ask and the adults would always ask, ‘why don’t you have one for the kids,’” she said.

But, they knew they couldn’t do it on their own. That’s when Island Breeze Productions came in to help, running and coordinating the junior program, Carrick said.

The company also provides performance opportunities and mentorship, said Landon Ikaika Chinen, a dancer with Island Breeze who leads the Jr. Hawaiian Idol program.

“It’s giving them that opportunity to just have a place, because there is no place for them to show off,” Chinen said.

Investing in the junior program also brings stronger talent to the adult competition as the kids are essentially “groomed” for Hawaiian Idol.

For example, “if the junior program had been started 13 years ago, an 8-year-old who moved through that program would be eligible to compete in Hawaiian Idol,” said Gerald “Brudda G” Farm, a musician, former competitor and organizer.

“The level of their showmanship, their performances would have been elevated because it would have grown with the program. That was another idea of the doing the junior program and kind of nurturing the talent so that when they become an adult, they would be a very good representative of the Hawaiian Idol,” he said. “And, hopefully that would be person that goes the nationals and brings home the first place title.”

This year, Jr. Hawaiian Idol attracted 12 contestants between two age groups 8-13 and 14-20. That number includes 11 of the 14 contestants who took part in the inaugural event.

“All the returnees, in that one year time from last year to this year, every one of them upped their game,” said Farm. “This is serious. Every single one of them was better than they were last year.”

Tiya Cantiberos-Ontiveros, 19, is one of those repeats, returning to the competition because it was fun and something she really liked doing.

“I definitely think whoever is looking for a new start or just to get a new start, it would be really good to do this,” she said.

It also helped hone her skills.

“It made my stage presence better,” she said before hitting the stage April 15 to sing “Play” by Rihanna.

Isaac Carvalho, a 17-year-old Kealakehe High School student, echoed Cantiberos-Ontiveros.

“It’s a really good, getting out there experience,” he said. “I’ve learned new things. Alana Johnson, a previous idol winner, gave me a few vocal tips. It’s awesome.”

Jr. Hawaiian Idol winners received cash and various prizes, as well as the opportunity to perform at local events, including the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Lanihau Center’s tree lighting in December, and atop KBXtreme’s float in the the 2016 Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade.

The Jr. Hawaiian Idol winners also compete against the adults for the Fan Favorite award as voted on by the public via social media. ■

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