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'American Idol' star Stefano Langone to perform school fundraising concert at Kentwood
Singer Stefano Langone is back in town to give a benefit concert for the Kentwood High School choir as part of the Kentwood Idol program.
Langone, 24, who finished seventh on "American Idol" in the spring of 2011, took a week away from his Los Angeles home to help out the school that prepared him for a music career.
"First and foremost I'm coming for Kentwood," Langone said during a phone interview as he prepares for a Friday night concert at his former school. "I graduated from there and the support I had from the school and community were pivotal in my development."
Langone participated in the school choir and drama programs. He attended numerous competitions through the school. But most of that funding for trips and competition entry fees has been cut by the Kent School District.
"Funding for the music programs in Kent have been reduced drastically," said Kentwood choral director Daisy Li Emans, who invited Langone to return for the benefit show.
Emans said 10 years ago the choir program would receive about $3,000 per year. This year the program's budget is $300. Proceeds from Kentwood Idol will help pay for judged competitions, bus rental fees, sound equipment, sheet music and create scholarships to help students attend music field trips.
"I am so proud of Stefano for agreeing to do this," Emans said. "He is giving back so generously with his time and energy to make this a great fundraising event that showcases the talent we have at Kentwood. These are his roots and he's showing all of us the importance of giving back to the community that has shaped and evolved him as a musician. Stefano was a freshman when I student taught at Kentwood many moons ago, and I've witnessed his growth and passion as a performer ever since."
After Emans told Langone about the budget cuts to the music programs, Langone said he had to help out.
"To hear they are not funding trips to competitions - things I was able to do - hurts me," Langone said. "I want to do anything I can to help out the community. It's bigger than me. It's the full picture."
Langone participated in choirs at Emerald Park Elementary School and Meridian Junior High before attending Kentwood.
"Teachers were a huge influence on my life and they were all in the arts," Langone said. "If I did not have the guidance and help, who knows where I would be."
Ten student finalists will compete in the second Kentwood Idol, narrowed from a field of 30. Langone, who also will serve as a judge, plans to perform eight or so songs after the competition. He has rounded up Seattle-area musicians for a full band behind him as well as a couple of background dancers.
"I'm putting on a concert," said Langone, who returned to "American Idol" in April to perform his single "Yes to Love." "It's going to be a great production."
Hollywood Records signed Langone to a contract after "American Idol." He's working on his first album and performed across the country over the summer. After the Kentwood show, he will leave for a week and a half in Romania to attend a music writers and producers camp. Langone writes many of his songs.
"The sky's the limit," Langone said about his goals as a professional singer. "I've been given incredible resources. I'm in LA for a reason. I have the talent to do it and the people behind me. I'm ready to take over the world."
But first Langone wants to give back to where it all started and raise money for the Kentwood choir.
"I haven't performed like this in my community," he said. "Get out there Friday night."
• 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18
• Kentwood Performing Arts Center, Covington
• Tickets $12, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/495285
• 10 student singers compete followed by Stefano Langone concert