BY PAMELA STERN
Empire City Casino is now hosting “Lucky Break,” a karaoke contest where the winner will receive $25,000 cash, a trip for two, and a meeting with multiple record label executives.
Lucky Break is taped live at Empire City Casino on Tuesdays through December 18 and shown on WLNY on Sundays at 12 noon. The contest is open to new contestants until the quarterfinals start in January, and thereafter each week two contestants will get eliminated until only one person is left.
How may one enter to be a part of Lucky Break? Contestants sign up online at empirecitycasino.com/lucky-break for an audition. If they are chosen, they are then called to audition in front of the producer. There are 45 people that audition for the producer each week. Ten people then will advance to be on the show.
Each week out of the 10 contestants, only the two contestants with the highest score will move on to the quarterfinals. Ryan Murphy, VP of marketing at Empire City said the casino has connected with WLNY in the past, and has a great relationship with CBS and that this opportunity would be a great fit.
This show was something that Murphy had been working on for a while now. He has worked with the executive producer Mike Ousley in the past and felt it would be a great opportunity for talent and the audience in the tri-state market.
There will be a total of 32 contestants in the quarter-finals. The contestants pick their music and the producer gets their songs approved by the music publishers. If the song is not approved, then the contestant will pick from a list of already pre-approved songs.
Clare Galtiero, promotions manager at Empire City and Mike Ryan of 103.5 WKTU are the hosts of Lucky Break. “People that have never been here before are starting to come and check out the live tapings. It is a great opportunity for Empire City to reach out to a new audience,” Galtiero said.
Two of the judges for Lucky Break change each week, while Katrina Dibbini remains a constant. Dibbini is a music blogger whose column themusicchik.com generates a lot of traffic. The judges during one November show were Dibbini, Julie Wooters, who is a part of the a cappella group The UpBeats, and Leo Mamorsky, a senior account executive with the worldwide advertising agency DDB.
Mamorsky, whose background is in advertising, was thrilled with the opportunity. “I am nervous about doing this but, I feel tremendously stoked and excited. I will be looking at the contestants pitch, performance and potential,” Mamorsky said.
Dibbini said, ”I am very excited to be here as a judge. I am really excited for the talent on the stage. This is so much fun to be a part of. I am looking for someone who is very confident, that they work the crowd and that they have the whole package. I want to know that they own the stage for the time that they are on it. They also must have stage presence. This is really nerve wracking because I hate to be the person to ruin someone’s dream.”
Wooters said, ”I am looking for the audience’s engagement, someone who has a fantastic sound, and that they own the stage.”
“Having different judges with different opinions is really nice because it mixes it up and keeps it fresh for the contestants,” said host Clare Galtiero.
Chanda Patterson, a Yonkers resident was a contestant last month and comes faithfully every week to watch Lucky Break. “I was amazed that I even got picked. I only got to sing for 90 seconds, but I really enjoyed it. The song that I sang was “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees.”
Regular patrons to Empire City are also enjoying the show. Frank Panza, a native from close by Mount Vernon said, “There really isn’t much to do on a Tuesday night and since Empire City is so close to home, I enjoy coming here and watching the Lucky Break tapings. I know a lot of people who used to come here on Tuesday nights and sing at karaoke. I came here to cheer them on and then when Lucky Break started, I really enjoy watching a live taping of a TV show. If I wasn’t so shy I would try out to sing.”
Two recent contestants to advance to the quarterfinals were Nickeisha Bardowell, a 24 year old who produces her own music and learned to play the piano by ear, and Eddie Rock, 48, who has been singing since he was a tot. Said Rock, ”I had watched Lucky Break before I decided to audition. I really wanted to sing “Lady” by Kenny Rogers but, it wasn’t approved by the producers, so I sang the Righteous Brothers song “Unchanged Melody.” I was literally reading the lyrics while I was on stage.”
These two winners are now on to the quarter finals to see if this is their Lucky Break. Good Luck!