The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, in partnership with Sony Pictures and Myspace, has announced Miami native Bianca Sirgany-Castro as the national winner of the “Sparkle Singing Challenge,” a singing contest conducted on behalf of the soon-to-be-released film Sparkle starring Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston.
In addition, the Arsht Center also announces local gospel group SIGN (Singing In God’s Name) as the winner of its inaugural “New Gospel Talent Search,” a local singing contest set to discover Miami’s next top gospel artists.
Both winners will perform as the Free Gospel Sundays opening acts on Sept. 16, headlined by Grammy-nominated contemporary gospel superstar J Moss.
The Arsht Center’s “New Gospel Talent Search” is supported by John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami gospel radio station WMBM 1490 AM, and Beverly and Bill Parker.
During the recent “Sparkle Singing Challenge,” music industry judges voted 18-year-old Sirgany-Castro as the local winner of the national singing competition. She received numerous prizes including the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people on the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall stage and a chance to compete nationally for the contest’s grand prize.
On Aug. 7, Sirgany-Castro won the overall challenge by attaining the greatest amount of public votes collected through a Myspace Sparkle homepage. As winner of the grand prize, she traveled to New York City to record a song with the Punch Monkeys, Jordin Sparks’ production and writing team. On Aug. 16, Sirgany-Castro will appear on BET’s highly-rated 106 & Park show to reveal her new song during an exclusive interview.
As a proud Miamian, she is thrilled to perform at Arsht Center this upcoming fall
“It’s definitely going to be the biggest and most exciting performance for me,” Sirgany-Castro said. “I used to go to the Arsht with my school for fieldtrips and now I will actually be on the stage. This is going to be an amazing experience.”
Sirgany-Castro attended Miami Arts Charter School where she studied jazz vocal and choral music and will be attending Miami Dade College this fall. She was trained by Miami-based Grammy Awardwinning R&B artist Betty Wright and performed locally at her school’s Relay For Life event, Tobacco Road and the national anthem at various Miami Marlins baseball games. She was part of a non-profit touring group, Voices United, and once performed on NBC6’s live morning program. A great deal of her musical flair comes from the folk, gospel, and jazz music stylings of Aretha Franklin. Yet, Sirgany-Castro also is inspired by the vocals of Amy Winehouse, Adele, Coldplay and Yolanda Adams who was featured in the Arsht Center’s Free Gospel Sundays 2011-12 concert series.
SIGN was founded in 2001 by locals Jespert Powell and Evron Stewart and since then has made its mark in the world of gospel, jazz and R&B. Powell, who originally is from Jamaica, said the group uses Jamaican-inspired rhythms in their music, in addition to a combination of other musical genres ranging from a cappella numbers to R&B to reggae. They also gain inspiration from various harmonic groups such as Real Group, Straight Company and Naturally Seven. SIGN group members are looking forward to their upcoming Arsht Center debut and hope to please audience members with their unique sound as they open for J Moss at Free Gospel Sundays this fall.
“When we sing we make sure we reach a wide range, so that there is something for everyone, the young and the old. We try to bridge the generation gap,” Powell explained.
Admission to Free Gospel Sundays is free. However, First Access Passes for the performance on Sept. 16, featuring J Moss, Miami Mass Choir and the winners of the “Sparkle Singing Challenge” and “New Gospel Talent Search” have been reserved.
Patrons who do not have a First Access Pass may join the Stand-by Line beginning at 3 p.m. outside the theater. Seating, if available, will be opened at 3:45 p.m. to patrons in the Stand-by Line.
Sign up for the Adrienne Arsht Center email list at www.arshtcenter.org to be notified when Free First Access Passes become available for each of the Free Gospel Sundays concerts.