“America’s Got Talent” Looks for the Next Big Thing in Phoenix

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Performing Arts Issue: November 2015
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America's Got Talent / Photo by Eric Liebowitz, courtesy NBCThe America’s Got Talent crew is back on the road, hunting for the next Terry Fator or Mat Franco. This year, locals will have a chance to nab a spot in Season 11 when the 12-stop audition parks its sizeable entourage at Phoenix Convention Center, on Thursday, December 3.

Surprisingly, it’s the first time the People’s Choice award-winning reality show has ventured to the Valley. It won’t be the first time a talented Phoenician has persevered through the gauntlet of underhanded compliments, harsh criticisms and the dreaded “Red X’s” to make it to the small screen, though. Septuagenarian crooner Frank Dimitri wowed crowds with his Sinatra-esque vocal seduction in the initial 2014 rounds and Suga N Spice, a children’s dance troupe based in Scottsdale, breezed past judges Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howard Stern last year (though they never made it to Judge Cuts week).

The biggest local success story to come out of AGT is dubstep violinist Lindsey Stirling of Gilbert, who was cut from the AGT Season Five quarterfinals after not receiving enough viewer votes. Following the show, Stirling’s career took off and she amassed a cult following on YouTube. She recently earned the 2015 Billboard Music Award for Top Dance/Electronic Album for her second album release, Shatter Me.

If you’re hoping to repeat Lindsey’s success, or take home the show’s $1 million grand prize and score a Vegas run, be forewarned – this season is poised to be brutal. Stern vacated his spot after four years, leaving an opening for former American Idol judge and America’s Got Talent creator Simon Cowell to swoop in. There are bound to be some razor-sharp barbs and audience-angering “critique grenades” lobbed at this year’s crop of undiscovered performers.

“I am really thrilled to be joining ‘America’s Got Talent’ next season,” Cowell said in AGT’s public announcement of his new role. “What I love about this show is that it’s open to absolutely anyone. America has some fantastic talent just waiting to be discovered, and I would like that talent to come to our show, including any dogs who can sing!” Hopefully, that’s not what audiences have to look forward to entertainment-wise for Season 11, which airs in the summer of 2016.

Those brave enough to seek the spotlight can register for the Phoenix open call at Doors open at 7 a.m.; the first 1,000 acts to sign up online get first pick of available general audition slots.

If you go:
Phoenix Convention Center
100 N. Third St., Phoenix
Thursday, December 3