Miami Beach resident Lily Kaplan, 13, has been passionate about music since she was a little girl. She has played guitar for four years and has sung for as long as she can remember.
Along with her band, Ripcord, Lily could be one of the lucky opening acts for the Grammy-nominated band Locos Por Juana at the Miami Beach Youth Music Festival happening Saturday, March 18, at the North Beach Bandshell.
“To have the opportunity to be in front of a crowd and share my talent means so much to me,” Lily said. “I’m nervous but excited. It’s gonna be a very important experience for us.”
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Lily and her band submitted an audition YouTube video link in hope of landing one of the seven available spots to any talented Miami Beach resident under age 18.
The winners will perform sets of 20 minutes each on the North Beach Bandshell stage, which has launched international superstars such as Wisin y Yandel and Pitbull.
The audition tapes will be judged by third-generation musician Stephen Gibb, Gloria Gibb, music industry executive Betsy Perez and Miami Beach Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán.
“We are looking for originality and inherent talent, a God-given gift,” said Perez, who with her husband, Latin Grammys founder Rudy Perez, have more than 35 years of experience in the music industry.
The inspiration to organize a music festival to showcase young Beach talent came to Alemán when she realized her son, Jake, now 13 and in the eighth grade, didn’t have a platform to expose his electric guitar skills.
“He has played at commissioners’ meetings before, but then I thought that Miami Beach was missing a great music scene,” Alemán said. “The city is committed to revitalizing North Beach, and give a chance to our amazing musician kids,” she said.
Locos Por Juana lead singer Itawe Correa wishes his band had this kind of platform when they started practicing 16 years ago in a garage in Miami.
“We feel honored knowing we will be sharing the stage with young up-and-coming talent. We are proud to see what our city is doing,” Correa said. “To all the youth who want to participate I say, believe in your passion and be very disciplined. It’s not going to be easy but have faith in what you love and work really hard to get there.”
The festival will start at 4 p.m. and the winners will perform until 9 p.m., when Locos Por Juana takes the stage.
There will be food trucks and concessions available to attendees and a $5 donation is suggested. All proceeds will benefit the youth music programs at the city of Miami Beach, Miami Beach High Rock ensemble, Nautilus Middle School’s Jazz ensemble and Young Musicians Unite, a nonprofit that provides free music education to underrepresented kids in Wynwood and Overtown.
The youth hopefuls should submit an audition by a video recording of up to two songs via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, along with a completed application that can be found at www.northbeachbandshell.com. Winners will be announced Jan. 21 via social media, the bandshell’s website and on a digital sign outside the bandshell.