Setting stage for youths

For 21 groups, the Bay Area Idol competition showcases their energetic talent.

By NICOLE HUTCHESON, Times Staff Writer
Published September 30, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - It started out as just a talent show in a recreation center. Now it's a major production.

But Eric Green's purpose for the Bay Area Idol competition hasn't wavered.

"It's a program that allows young people to have a platform to show their talents," said Green, the organizer of the bay area talent showcase. "And (it) helps a diverse group see their commonalities, not their differences."

Green, founder of the grass roots organization Everyone's Youth United, began the Idol competition seven years ago as another creative outlet for area youths. It has grown each year in attendance and performers.

This year's event, held at the Palladium Theater, featured 21 groups performing in the areas of dance, rap, vocals and a miscellaneous category that included everything from tap dancers to a three-piece band. There was a $1,000 award for the top performer in each group.

"Using art allows people to open their minds," said Green. "We want the elderly people in attendance to experience something new and vice versa."

And from the looks of the backstage at the show, there was no shortage of diversity. The Krump All Stars, a 12-member dance group with white-painted faces, practiced their hip-hop moves. A 12-year-old named Kristen Corpuz mouthed the words to Kelly Clarkson's A Moment Like This. And a vibrant African dance troupe prepared to take center stage.

Performers showed confidence in their talents and styles.

"We do us," said Jamal Jones, 16, a Dunedin High School student and member of the Krump All Stars. "Nobody can do what we do, so no, we're not nervous."