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Cherry Pop

'The American Juniors' 'The American Juniors'
’The Kid’s Are Alright’

The search to find the country's best singers and dancers ages 6-13 who now comprise a five-member group is over. Talent searches took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Chattanooga. Thousands of kids, along with their fanatical parents, weathered wind, rain and impending tornadoes for a chance at stardom.

During the auditions, producers evaluated each contestant's singing and dancing abilities, and, as part of the show's production, whittled down the group of thousands to 20 semi-finalists. At this point, America took over and voted for ten finalists.

Each of these contestants performed individually in a Tuesday night performance episode. The home audience then voted weekly for their favorite contestant. Results of the vote were then revealed during Wednesday night's shows. Each week, the performer with the largest number of votes advanced into the final group of five. This final five became a new performing sensation - THE AMERICAN JUNIORS.

Chatting with all the five lucky winners – Lucy Hale (14), Danielle White (11), Chauncey Matthews (11) and sisters Taylor (11) and Tori Thompson (9) – I posed a set of five questions to them all. What follows are their answers with absolutely nothing held back or edited, because, well, as Bill Cosby would say, "Kids say the darndest things!"

Taylor Thompson:
Why CCR’s ‘Proud Mary’ for your song on the new CD? ”Actually, we didn’t choose it, but I’m happy with the way it turned.”

You’re learning to play guitar – how’s that going? ”It’s going all right, but I haven’t gone to a lesson in like four months!”

Who are some of the singers that you aspire to be? ”I like Stacie Orrico, because, er, well, ... I just like her! She’s very different with her styles of music.”

Is it true that you’d love to be a singing and dancing veterinarian?! ”Yes,” she giggles.

QUOTE: “It’s cool because if I didn’t have any friends here I could hang out and talk with Tori.” But, wouldn’t you talk to your own sister anyway?! ”Yeah," she answers sheepishly ”but I’d have all my friends also.”

Describe the way you’re feeling right now in one word! ”Happy,” she answers. ”Yeah, I’m very happy right now.”

Lucy Hale:
Are you happy with the way your version of Diana Ross & The Supremes’ ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ came out on the CD? ”Oh yeah, I’m very happy with it. Usually I don’t sing fast songs, so it was good for me to do something new and I’m glad I did that song on the CD.”

Had you heard the original prior to singing it? ”Actually, I’d heard the slow version of it that Diana Ross sang, but I did a Play version.”

You enjoy entertaining, but do you have other entertaining skills aside from singing? ”Well, all I do is sing really, but I dance too. Like with the band and all the choreography.”

Who are some of the singers that you aspire to be? ”Probably my favorite singers right now are Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. I think they have amazing voices and they’ve both just really inspired me.”

QUOTE: “The fame with the people asking for your autograph. That’ll be a lot of fun!” So, have you been practicing your autograph recently?! ”Oh, of course I have and I’ve changed it a lot. I still can’t find one that I really like.”

Describe the way you’re feeling right now in one word! ”Excited.”

Chauncey Matthews:
Did you know about the ’A Whole New World’ song from ‘Aladdin’ before you sang it for the CD? ”I knew it a little, but I didn’t know the verses, but I knew the chorus.”

What does it feel like to be the only guy left surrounded by all these girls?! ”It’s different,” he laughs.

Do you get more attention because of it, or do you get lost in the crowd sometimes? ”Neither! We all get the same amount of attention.”

Do they gang up on you at all?! ”No, not yet and I hope not any time soon,” he laughs.

Who are some of the singers that you aspire to be or are listening to now? ”I really like Beyonce. I got her CD the first day that it came out.”

It’s been said that you might like to act, but in what genre? ”Yeah, I like acting a lot. All kinds except no horror!”

QUOTE: “This isn’t anything like I thought it would be” So what DID you think it would be like?! ”On TV things look so big, but when you’re there it’s like whoah, things are like much smaller. It’s much bigger on TV.”

Describe the way you’re feeling right now in one word! ”Clueless,” he laughs.

Danielle White:
Do you like the way ‘Colors of the Wind’ from ‘Pocahontas’ came out on the CD? ”Yeah, I think it came out pretty good.”

So, you like sports, but which ones are you best at? ”I like track and field, running, jumping and stuff like that. I like soccer, but I like pretty much any sport you can think of, probably.”

Who are some of the singers that you aspire to be? ”I like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston … and I like Ruben Studdard. And other people like that because of their really, really powerful voices.”

Has it always been your dream to be a singer? ”Yeah, … No,” she quickly changes her mind. ”Not really. Actually I always wanted to be a star, like when I was little, but I never knew that I had a voice until a year ago. So, I’ve only been working on it a year now. But then that’s when I found out what I had and I then wanted to pursue being a ‘star’ this way.”

QUOTE: “I can perform in front of a live TV audience, but I can’t even perform for my own parents!” Why’s that then?! ”Yeah, well, I don’t really know, but it’s really, really strange! I don’t know how to explain it, but I can perform in front of all these people, but it’s hard for me to perform in front of just one or two people in a room.”

Do you think you’ll ever overcome this feeling?! ”I don’t know, but it’s really weird! I’ve never realized what it is, but I hope I realize what it is later on,” she laughs.

Describe the way you’re feeling right now in one word! ”Probably,” stealing from the others in the group, ”clueless and excited! Every minute you don’t know what you’re gonna do next, but you’re just so excited.”

Tori Thompson:
Why ‘Let ‘Er Rip’ by the Dixie Chicks? ”Well, that song we got to kinda pick a little, but I love the Dixie Chicks.”

Was that always going to be your song for the CD? ”No, at first I sang a different song and then I heard ‘Let ‘Er Rip’ and I really liked it. So, I started singing that and that’s the one that came up.”

Learning the piano – how’s that going? ”Good, but I’ve not done it recently either.”

You said that you just want to be a, quote “Star” in the future, but if not singing, then what? ”Acting, probably. I don’t like scary movies though.”

QUOTE: “When I get nervous I gently tap my toes or cross my arms and think happy thoughts.” So, does that all work and what are those happy thoughts? ”Yeah, it works and the happy thoughts that I think are ……….. just anything around the world,” she eventually confusingly answers with. This now sets the entire gang off laughing hysterically as Tori had been quietly prompted in the direction to think of ‘anything around the world’ by a in-the-shadows parent and had quite simply gotten the wrong end of the stick! As the laughter around the table eventually subsides, she steadies herself and comes back with a more defined answer. ”I think happy thoughts about the band, I guess. Sorry.”

Describe the way you’re feeling right now in one word! ”I would have to agree with Danielle. I’m happy and clueless, because you really don’t know what you’re doing every second, half the time.”

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

To win a Brand New copy of 'The American Juniors' CD Kids In America,, just tell me who first recorded the song sung by Chantel Kohl, 'Open Arms'? Then, just send an e:mail to me with the subject title 'AJ' and the answer in the text to:

FYI - Two lucky winners will ALSO receive either a signed 'American Juniors' Kids In America CD (autographed by the Top 5 Finalists themselves) OR a signed 'American Juniors' poster!

*Contest ends January 31st, 2004 (11.59pm - EST)

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