PLATTEVILLE — The Grand Opera House in Dubuque held its “The Grand’s Got Talent” contest Sept. 29.
As it turned out, the Grand’s top talent came from 20 miles to the northeast.
Platteville High School seniors Emma Wilson and Jordan Stombaugh won $1,000 for winning the talent competition.
Wilson and Stombaugh’s performance of “The Prayer,” written by David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager, was judged best of the 12 entries, all but one of which were musical acts.
Those who didn’t go to the Grand may have heard Wilson and Stombaugh sing “The Prayer” at the Platteville High School Pops Concert in June, or at Stombaugh’s sister’s wedding, before the competition.
They also sing in the worship band at Community Evangelical Free Church in Platteville.
“I was probably more nervous for the wedding because it was all my family and my friends,” said Stombaugh, the son of Chris and Linda Stombaugh. “That night I didn’t even feel nervous because we’ve done it so many times now.”
“It’s just adrenalin,” said Wilson, the daughter of Jon and Bridget Wilson. “It’s really cool, singing on stage. I love to entertain, and I love to entertain people.”
“The Prayer” has been sung by, among others, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, Charlotte Church and Josh Groban, and Daniel Rodriguez and Kristin Chenoweth.
“I think it’s rewarding,” said Stombaugh. “‘The Prayer’ is such a beautiful song, and when you sing it you can feel the music.”
Winning the talent competition ended a full day for both singers. Wilson finished ninth in the girls race at the Dick McKichan Platteville Invitational at UW–Platteville that morning, leading the Platteville girls to a fourth-place team finish. Stombaugh ran in the boys JV race that day.
“My vocal teacher told me to sing when I run,” said Wilson.
Wilson and Stombaugh had similar reactions when they began singing.
“I was absolutely shy,” said Wilson. “It was the Christmas show at church, and I cried and I left the room and I couldn’t do it.”
Wilson didn’t win a tryout for a role until she got picked for “Charlotte’s Web” in seventh grade, “and I got over my fear of being in front of people.”
“I think I did perform because my older sister did it, and I think looking up I decided I wanted to do that when I got older,” said Stombaugh. “I sang in front of people, and afterward I got intense stage fright — I didn’t like being in front of big crowds.”
Once he started acting, though, “I just got comfortable with singing in groups,” he said.
In contrast to Stombaugh, said Wilson, “my parents will say, Where did you get your talent from?”
The two have sung in three Platteville High School musicals — “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Fame” and “All Shook Up.” They will be in “Aida” this year.
“I love musical theater, with dancing and acting and singing,” said Wilson.
“I’ve learned so much from doing choir, from doing classical pieces,” said Stombaugh. “Chances are if you’re not singing it you don’t listen to classical music.”
How would they describe their singing styles?
“I’m a belter,” said Wilson. “I may not sing real pretty, but I’m pretty loud. I like big songs.”
“I think I can sing a mix between classical and musical theater,” said Stombaugh.
This might not be the last time their singing proves to be financially lucrative.
“We just signed up for a website where people can hire you for gigs,” said Stombaugh. “I couldn’t find any wedding singers in the area, so I figure it’s a good market. Might as well use your talent.”
Both want to continue singing in college.
“I’m doing musical theater and pairing it with a communications major,” said Wilson. “Musical theater is something I’m not ready to give up yet.”
“For my undergrad I’ll probably do vocal performance and something else,” said Stombaugh. “If I do well in school I’d like to get my master’s degree in vocal performance. Iu can’t think about giving up signing and music.”