These days, Zoom calls are more likely to inspire grousing than gratitude. Who wants to make uncomfortable eye contact with their boss or professor — and themselves? But Vikki Siddell of St. Charles recently joined a very different Zoom call, one where she got to talk — and perform — in front of celebrities including Daniel Radcliffe, Tina Fey and St. Louis’ own Ellie Kemper.
The occasion was a live singing contest: “Kimmy vs. the Music: A Live Singing Contest That's Live.” It celebrated the launch of the new interactive Netflix special "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend.” During the YouTube stream, the cast and creators raised awareness and funds for Crisis Text Line, which provides 24/7 mental health support to people in crisis.
Contestants were to prepare a performance cover of a song on Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” The show is a comedic series about 29-year-old Kimmy Schmidt (played by Ellie Kemper) as she adjusts to life after she’s rescued from a doomsday cult in the fictional town of Durnsville, Indiana, where she and three other women were held by Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) for 15 years.
The live singing contest was judged by the show's cast and creators — Kemper, Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Jeff Richmond, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, Carol Kane and Daniel Radcliffe - and moderated by Jack McBrayer. The finalists included contestants from Australia, California, Ohio and Virginia.
But it was Siddell that came out on top.
On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, she joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about what it was like performing for some of her favorite actors. Siddell is the vocal music director for Fort Zumwalt South Middle School.
Siddell first came across the contest on Instagram, where she thought to give it a try but hesitated. She eventually submitted her video entry on the last day.
“I didn’t think I’d make it on it, so I thought it was safe to do,” Siddell joked. She sang a piano rendition of “Just Go On,” featured in season two of the show. The production coordinator notified Siddell that she made it to the finals — but wanted to make some changes to her piece.
“They wanted me to change my song to the theme song ... I thought [it] didn’t fit well with my voice, so I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that.’ And then they said, ‘Well, what if you joined it with your other song?’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that,’” Siddell said.
“And then after I got off the call, I tried it on the piano and I was like,’ Oh, actually this might work.” Her performance wowed the judges.
“I was very overwhelmed at the time; it was a lot to keep my cool and not scream,” she said.
The winner of the contest received a prize “that rhymes with nothing,” as Jack McBrayer described.
“I don’t get anything; it was just a fun thing to promote the show, and I got to talk to people I’ve admired [since] my adolescence till now, so it was really, really very cool.”
Listen to the full conversation:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.
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