Open Call for Student Vocalists – Sixth Annual Sing-Off Competition at Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, Cultural District





Pittsburgh, PA- Ready, Set, Sing! The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the sixth annual vocal competition for talented student singers! The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Sing-Off is part of the upcoming Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2016, and is aimed at providing a unique and creative opportunity for young people in the greater Pittsburgh region.  The full complement of programming for Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2016 will be announced on Wednesday, December 2.

“We’re pleased to continue this tradition of showcasing the talented students of our region and honored that Smokey Robinson has agreed to return as the celebrity judge for a second year,” said Janis Burley-Wilson, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Audience Engagement and Director of Jazz Programs for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  “The competition represents the best of what this year’s theme, Around the World-Around the ‘Burgh represents.  This competition highlights Pittsburgh’s finest and presents an opportunity for them to share their gift with the world.”

“I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting event that supports young talent and fosters arts education,” shared Mr. Robinson.  “I look forward to reviewing the auditions and hearing from some of the region’s most promising stars of the future.”

Similar to the format of popular TV talent shows, students from grades 6 through 12 who are affiliated with a middle or high school in Southwestern Pennsylvania may submit a video audition performance of two songs. An internal panel will review all submissions and five finalists will be selected.

While Smokey Robinson will select the winner, he is not scheduled to attend Highmark First Night Pittsburgh.  The winner will be announced prior to Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, and will have the opportunity to participate in special media opportunities relative to the award.  Once pronounced by Bob Dylan as America’s “greatest living poet,” Smokey Robinson’s career spans over 4 decades of hits. He has received numerous awards including the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctorate (Howard University), Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States. He has also been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

Individual students and student groups of 20 or fewer should upload a video of no more than 10 minutes in length on to YouTube, and then submit it to the contestant page on the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2016 website.  Students from grades 6 through 12 who are affiliated with a middle or high school in Southwestern Pennsylvania are eligible to enter.

Eligible counties include:
Pennsylvania: Lawrence, Butler, Armstrong, Indiana, Cambria, Bedford, Somerset, Fayette, Greene, Washington, Westmoreland, Allegheny and Beaver.
Ohio: Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont, Monroe
West Virginia: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Marion, Monongahalia, Preston
Maryland: Garrett, Allegheny, Washington

The application deadline is midnight on Friday, December 4, 2015 and late submissions will not be considered.

Additional contest information and the entry form are available on the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2016 website,

In addition to having a renowned celebrity review their submissions, the winner of the sixth annual sing-off competition will perform live as the opening act for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust performances at the Benedum Center during Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2016. They will also receive a cash prize of $500 and their school will receive donation of $500 designated to the music department. Finally, the winner will receive complimentary Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2016 admission buttons.

Last year’s competition winner was Gabby Barrett, a freshman (at the time of the competition) at Serra Catholic High School.

You can find information about Gabby Barrett here:

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh
Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is Pittsburgh’s arts-focused New Year’s Eve celebration. Culminating with the city’s Countdown to Midnight and raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball, the six-hour celebration sprawls downtown’s renowned 14-block Cultural District—inside theaters, galleries, and unique spaces and along city streets on outdoor performance stages. Acclaimed national artists and Pittsburgh’s vibrant artist community ring in the new year for revelers with live music, dance, theater, visual arts, comedy, magic, kids’ activities and a signature parade along with two Zambelli Fireworks displays at 6 pm and midnight. Admission Button prices remain among the most-affordable in the nation: $8 in advance, $10 at the door, and kids 5 and under attend for free.

The Wailers, headline music act for Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2016, epitomize this year’s theme, Around the World—Around the ‘Burgh, by bringing to Pittsburgh – the site of Bob Marley’s final performance 35 years ago – a legacy and sound celebrated internationally for more than fifty years. Around the World—Around the ‘Burgh will shape the complete line-up attractions on New Year’s Eve as visitors discover international arts and cultural influences alongside the diverse work of Pittsburgh’s regional artists.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts.

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