As a part of a movement that has expanded to 14 major American cities and attracts 20,000 people annually, Kollaboration Seattle proved its success once again at the historical Moore Theatre on October 12th. The third annual talent competition showcased variety of talents ranging from a Chinese instrumental fusion band to a premier Indian classical team and not to mention four other local musical talents. With notable guest judges and performers in the Asian American community, Kollaboration Seattle successfully delivered its mission of “Empowerment through Entertainment.”
This year’s show was one to remember because not only did Kollaboration founder Paul “PK” Kim host the show, but Kollaboration also recently joined partnership with MNET America. MNET is a “new English language TV network for a new generation of Asian Americans and the millions of Asian pop fans.”
And as for Kollaboration’s long-time tradition, netizens will vote two regional winners to compete in Kollaboration Star in Los Angeles to win a grand prize of $2000 and a trip to Hong Kong for MNET Asian Music Award on November 30th.
Sitting on the judging panel this year were Kollaboration Seattle alumni—Gowe, Bruce Lee’s daughter—Shannon Lee, Co-founder and CEO or Pirq and the first Asian-American finalist on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,”—James Sun, King 5 News Anchor—Mimi Jung, Actor from “Karate Kid 2,” “Pearl Harbor” and “Inception”—Yuji Okumoto and founder of One Day’s Wages and supporter of Kollaboration—Eugene Cho.
“[Tonight] I’m definitely looking for the level of creativity, originality, skills and stage presence,” said judge Shannon Lee. “But most importantly, what I’m looking for is to feel the competitors expressing themselves. I want to feel their ‘me’ in the performances.”
And that’s exactly what the competitors gave Shannon Lee and the rest of the judges last Friday.
Gowe opened the show by reciting his lyrical rap with the message, “All About Me.” Soon after, last year’s winner Lions’ Ambition hyped up the stage with their famous hit, “Memories.” The six-man band set the atmosphere right with their head-banging moves and dancing mascot, “Larry the Lion.”
Soul singer Nate Vibez kicked off the competition by showing his incredible vocal abilities—especially that falsetto, which followed by University of Washington’s Natya, who performed various Indian classical dance styles to contemporary instrumental and Bollywood music.
Hannah Hipolito took the stage next performing her acoustic original, “Sing With Me.” Hipolito was greeted with her crowd of supporters and impressed the audience when she began rapping halfway to her song, when the cheered grew louder. Hipolito participated in the freestyle vocal competition last year, and decided to try out for this year’s show.
“I didn’t expect to get chosen, so this whole process was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m part of Kollaboration,’” Hipolito said. And she advised fellow aspiring musicians and singer-songwriters like her to just go for it. “You have nothing to lose,” the said Federal Way native, “If you get picked, then you get picked. If not, then it’s always a growing experience.”
Before the intermission, local dance group CHAPTER1NE rocked the stage with their powerful dance moves and hard choreography. The group is known for bringing together the same generation that are the same struggle and dreams in becoming known choreographers.
The second half of the night began when Pentatonics took over the stage. The Chinese instrumental fusion band from Vancouver, Canada awed the crowd by playing a medley of The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got a Feeling,” Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” and PSY’s “Gangnam Style” with an oriental twist. Let’s just say Pentatonics redefined the limits of classical instruments during their performance.
Up next was J-Pros—a rap group consisted of two emcees and a DJ. J-Pros got the crowd chanting “Go DJ, go DJ go!” with their 90’s rap music and flow, which consisted of many word play.
The regular full-time workers by day and rappers and emcee’s by night, also believe their talent as blessing in addition to what they already have. “It’s not so much of a money maker anymore,” said J-Pros. “We have been doing this since 1993 and it’s a matter of hobby and passion now.” Their music are available online for free.
Last competitor of the night was Ariel Yang. Yang charmed the entire Moore Theatre with her theatrical performance of “The Girl in 14-G” by Kristin Chenoweth. Despite of her blue jammies and humongous teddy bear, Yang served the crowd with her amazing opera-like vocal.
As anticipated by the audience, it’s now the two YouTube stars’ share of the stage. Cathy Nguyen performed her rendition of Justin Bibber’s “As Long As You Love Me,” followed by her heartfelt original, “Changed.” Joseph Vincent then performed acoustic medley of songs and an original from his newly released debut album, “Blue Skies,” before singing a duet with Cathy.
“It’s my privilege to come and show the young Asian-Americans that they can do this to,” said Joseph Vincent. “If you can sing, pursue it. There’s nothing between me and you.” The singer-songwriter said he shares the same mission with Kollaboration. He wants to empower the Asian American—especially the young generation—to break out from their shell and have faith to pursue what they want to do.
Shannon Lee also added, ”My father always tells me about the ripple in the pond. You’ve got to drop yourself in the pond, then the community support you and it grows from there.”
The night wrapped up with Hannah Hipolito winning the Yesstyle.com Most Creative and Natya as the Verizon Wireless Audience Choice award. And last but not least, going home with the $1000 grand prize and a chance to perform at Kollaboration Star 2012 would be Ariel Yang!
“After taking our stage to the next level, I believe that our success this year is not only in empowering the competitors,” said Victoria Ju, Associate Director of Kollaboration Seattle, in a closing statement, “But also the judges, staff, volunteers and the audience members in aligning with the mission of our organization.”
Make sure to support Ariel Yang and Kollaboration Seattle family and vote for her here. Voting begins Thursday, October 18th at 7PM PST/10PM EST.