Young singers take the spotlight


Above: Yasmin Hellman Left: The Tony Gril TV/Radio Kid Singers perform. Photos courtesy of Tony Gril

Calling all singers aged 7 to 14. Tony Gril is now auditioning boys and girls for his Tony’s TV/Radio Kid Singers group.

Gril, who knows the challenges of breaking into the entertainment world, is smoothing the way for young singers with his group that has performed on NBC, Fox, CBS and Star 100.7.

An organist with Our Mother of Confidence Church in University City, Gril formed the group 10 years ago because he wanted to give children the same opportunities he had as a child.

“We’ve performed on all the stations and it gives kids the chance to get involved on radio and TV for performances that go worldwide” Gril said.

While auditioning young singers, Gril looks to see if the child has a strong interest in performing.

“It’s not like a formal audition where a person has to stand up and do something perfectly, but they can have a song prepared if they like,” Gril said.

“Or they can just take ‘Jingle Bells’ and put it in different keys and cover the ranges, so I can tell if they’re on pitch. I’m really looking to see if they can match pitches and what their voice range is.”

The group usually numbers about 15 because Gril said that’s the ideal size for the small studios at TV and radio stations.

“The TV stations want the extreme close ups and the personality shots, and if you have 15 kids, that’s about right,” said Gril.

Gril is seeking young performers with a strong desire to perform and a determined attitude to stick with it, as well as parents who support them in their quest. “Some kids just want to just dabble in it and others decide that’s what they really want and they hang on for the ride,” Gril said.

One of Gril’s performers is 12-year-old Yasmin Hellman, a seventh-grader at La Jolla’s Stella Maris Academy.

“Yasmin has been dancing and singing since age 2 and knows what she wants and goes for it,” said Gril, who serves as Hellman’s manager and voice coach. “She centers on what she really wants to do, and her parents have the same attitude of going for it.”

Hellman, who recently cut a demonstration CD, “Christmas with Yasmin,” has a voice as big as her dreams, which include performing in the musical “Grease” one day. Hellman hopes to cut another CD featuring a blend of pop, rock and country music, but for now, she’s working hard to prepare for future performances.

“I plan to take a lot of acting and singing courses and when I get into high school I’m going to get in a drama program because they’ll do musicals that I can audition for,” Hellman said.

In December, Hellman sang on the “Jeff and Jer Showgram” on Star 94.1 San Diego.

She said she looks forward to performing on KUSI soon.

Interested in all the arts, Hellman loves drawing, singing, acting and dancing. As a dancer with the San Diego City Ballet, she has performed in “the Nutcracker,” “Don Quixote” and “Midsummer’s Night Dream.”

To learn more about Tony’s TV/Radio Kid Singers, call (619) 546-4665.