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Music competition at The Sheldon will give local bands a chance at the spotlight

Will DeWitt says his goal with this competition is to help "the next big sound" emerge from St. Louis.  5/18/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin

Does St. Louis have talent?

OK, it’s clear the answer to that is “yes.” But an upcoming competition offers a chance for local musicians who are trying to break into the music business to have their work heard by industry insiders and maybe even get that big break.

St. Louis Sound, a music competition modeled on TV shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice,” is headed for The Sheldon Concert Hall on June 7. Bands and solo artists are invited to submit one song for consideration, with 10 finalists taking the stage the night of the event to perform and receive critiques from a panel of judges.

The victorious artist or group wins a trip to Nashville to record a demo and meet with music industry executives who will listen to their work and offer some professional guidance. The winner will also get a chance to play the Sheldon at a future date.

“St. Louis is one of the most musically diverse cities in the whole entire world, really,” says Will DeWitt, a 16-year old sophomore at John Burroughs High School. He brought the idea for this competition to The Sheldon and has been the main organizer.

“It goes back to the blues, to jazz. It produces artists like Nelly, Chuck Berry. It’s really diverse and it’s a really big part of St. Louis’s culture,” he said. “We want to bring the big next sound out of St. Louis and we want to continue the culture that’s been afloat for the past hundreds of years.”

The winner’s entrée to music-business professionals is facilitated by Will’s mom, Ira DeWitt, who is the founder of Notifi Music Group, the St. Louis-based record label that has released albums by the likes of Ginuwine and Johnny Gill.

There is a $30 fee to submit a song for consideration. Proceeds from the event will benefit MusicCares Foundation, a charity that offers assistance to musicians who are facing issues like high medical bills. Submissions will remain open until at least through May 21; details can be found here.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jeremydgoodwin

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