↓ Meet our Judges! ↓
Florian Bellanger is a renowned pastry chef known for his role as a permanent judge on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Bellanger has also been a judge on Celebrity Cupcake Wars and Cupcake Wars: Kids. Bellanger’s love for food manifested itself at an early age, so he knew that his career would take a culinary path. As a child, Bellanger spent his free time baking in the kitchen for his family. Although a childhood allergy to chocolate ironically prevented him from relishing such treats for nearly six years, he outgrew it and passionately dedicated himself to the art of pastries even more. Bellanger is currently the chef and owner of Mad Mac Macarons, an acclaimed French cookie and pastry company in NYC. When asked to share his thoughts about the John Grieco Scholarship Fund, Bellanger responded with, “I think it is important to give students a chance to do what they like best – it motivates them and gives them the opportunity to discover new talents.” Florian Bellanger has been an audition and contest judge for Englewood Idol for 4 years.
DJ Wallah, a Newark, NJ native, made what would become his most valuable purchase in high school: a set of turntables. Sacrificing the luxuries of those his age at the time, Wallah exhausted all of his resources in order to build his music catalogue; what started out as a hobby quickly developed into his passion. In July 2009, Wallah’s hard work was recognized as he was inducted into the world-renowned Heavy Hitters DJ crew. With his celebrity continuing to rise as a result of the debut of his first show on HOT 97 in 2011, Wallah began making television appearances on shows such as BET’s “106 & Park”. This led to him hosting events all over the country and being the featured DJ alongside respected household names such as DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, French Montana, Rick Ross, and many others.
Singer-songwriter Josette, became well known for her extraordinary accomplishments on NBC’s “The Voice”, where as a High School student, she dove into the, often misunderstood, world of television production. Working with highly respected artists such as Joan Jett, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and her coach, Miley Cyrus, further underlined the importance of music in this young artist’s life. Behind every accomplishment however, lies a journey full of meek beginnings. At the age of 7, Josette wrote her first song, but never with the intention of impacting others’ emotions the way she does now on stage. She discovered a new love for creating music that a grand audience could relate to, transmitting feelings of love, lost, success, failure, hope, guilt, greed, and vulnerability.
Self taught on guitar and piano, Josette further developed her solo act and has performed on stages such as the Apollo Theatre, BillBoard, The Bitter End, The Metropolitan Club, and Shrine. “Music became so much more than just a hobby for me. Now it’s my life”, she said on an interview with Bergen Magazine.
Her most valuable advice for tonight’s performers is to remember that every second on that stage is valuable. They will flourish, learn and overall come out as better performers after tonight!
Kia Thornton Miller
Kia Thornton Miller first started performing in church and in high school plays, which was great preparation for what was to come. In the 90’s, Kia sought out the opportunity to audition for a girl group and landed the first spot in what was soon to be one of the number one girl groups in the country during the 90’s: Divine. Kia traveled across the world and has appeared on many popular T.V. shows: BET, Soul Train, VH1, CNN, Howie Mandel, Motown Live, Regis and Kathy Lee, Ricki Lake, BET Sound Stage, Donnie and Marie, American Idol and the list goes on. She’s toured with artists like ‘N Sync and has appeared on many dates with Christina Aguilera, Shaggy, Jay Z, Tyrese, Monica, 112, Missy Elliot, Usher, and more. Kia also had the opportunity to appear on one of the hottest television shows, “American Idol.” Kia received her golden ticket to Hollywood after Simon’s famous comment to her “The girl can sing.” Today, she continues to inspire young teens by teaching vocal techniques at the School of Rock and Ben Hyman music.
↓ Audition Judges ↓
Brianna Peterson is a former resident of Englewood and Dwight Morrow High school alumni. She is 26-years-old and currently works at Dwight Morrow High School. Eleven years ago she, too, was a contestant in Englewood Idol when the show took place at the Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium. While in high school, she also recorded her first self-written album entitled “Miss Independent.” After graduating, Brianna continued writing her own songs and eventually started performing in showcases in NYC. Brianna changed her stage name to B.Kharae and released an EP titled “Official” in the summer of 2016. She had a hot single from the EP “Take Your Time” which received over 2000 views on SoundCloud and social media. She also released a music video for another track on the EP titled “Tonight,” which received over 500 views on YouTube. Brianna also took place in a social media challenge to recreate a popular R&B track “So Gone” by Monica. Between social media and YouTube Brianna received over 2.5k views.
Dasia Capers performed on stage as a semi-finalist in Englewood Idol for all four years of high school: 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Since graduating from Dwight Morrow High School in 2014, she has served as a vocal coach and technical adviser for Englewood Idol. She is currently enrolled in college and is working towards a degree in Speech Pathology.
Lance Talton is a 19-year-old senior at Dwight Morrow High School. He is also a past semi-finalist contestant of Englewood Idol. He looks up to singers like: Beyonce, Maxwell, and Trey Songz. He plans on becoming a hair stylist and a singer. Lance’s family is his biggest support system and inspires him to accomplish all his goals.
Gerrilyn is the Education Outreach Manager at BergenPAC and has assisted in the production of Englewood Idol for a number of years, along with other school productions in Englewood and surrounding communities.