Six kids living in a Brooklyn homeless shelter will bring their singing act to Radio City Music Hall next month
By Reuven Blau, New York Daily News, May 11, 2014 :
The Tilden Hall Homeless Shelter gospel group was among 23 troupes chosen from more than 200 local acts who auditioned for slots at the Garden of Dreams Talent Show on June 17.
Move over, Rockettes.
Six kids blessed with beautiful voices — but living in a Brooklyn homeless shelter — will bring their inspiring singing act to Radio City Music Hall next month. The Tilden Hall Homeless Shelter gospel group was among 23 troupes chosen from more than 200 local acts who auditioned for slots at the Garden of Dreams Talent Show on June 17. “I’m thrilled for them,” said Bill Bartlett, who directs the kids via his charity group, Imagine Project. “We took these kids to audition and half of them had never been to Manhattan much less the music hall.”
At the concert, the kids will perform “Ya Gotta Believe,” a song that Bartlett and his daughter Holley wrote. The show will spotlight more than 100 talented kids whose struggles with illness or poverty hasn’t kept them from their dreams.
“I got a little nervous,” admitted Ke’lia Singleton, 9, of the nerve-racking audition process. “But then my mom said ‘calm down.’ I’m thinking I might have stage fright.”The Brooklyn group isn’t like other after-school programs.The kids practice once a week after school for 45 minutes on the ground floor of the 117-apartment Flatbush shelter. Initially, Bartlett hoped the tryout in April would be a learning experience for the kids — and an opportunity to spend some time with their parents over pizza afterwards. “We had 10 days of notice before the audition,” recalled Bartlett, a trained drama instructor with a booming voice. “These kids didn’t even know what an audition was.”
Many of the kids have lived in the shelter for more than a year and can’t remember any other home — but that hasn’t stopped them from dreaming big. “I know I can act. I’m a star,” said Nazeser Miller, 6, after a practice last month. Dorian Kamara, a precocious 8-year-old Public School 399 student, said he watches videos of stars on his mother’s phone after classes each day for inspiration, he said.“I want to be a famous dancer and movie star,” said Dorian.The experience has been a major confidence booster.
“They dream of performing,” said Kamara’s dad, Edmund Sanders, 36. Kamara and his three siblings have been living in the transitional shelter for a year and a half. But life’s hardships fade away when the parents watch their kids sing.
“We are all born with the magic within us,” Bartlett said.