You don’t know it yet, but tomorrow you might be living next to a star. Jonalee White, a Batavia resident, is currently facing stiff competition in NBC’s new internet star search competition, Star Tomorrow, and hopes to make it to the final cut and a chance to spread a little joy while having a little fun.
“I like being in front of a crowd and I like singing, I’ve always liked singing,” said White. “When I’m in the car I drive people crazy. I like to sing and if I can sing and make people happy and have fun doing it, why not?”
White, who moved to Batavia three years ago with her husband Raegan, said that she has always enjoyed singing, but only became serious about it about 10 years ago.
“I started singing when I was in college,” said White. “I grew up singing in church and all that good stuff, but I really got serious when I sang with some bands in college. When I moved to Cincinnati, I decided to get my own band together. I have a couple of bands, my Highway 32 band which I have not done anything with for a month or two because I’ve been so busy and a band that I travel with that’s more of my studio band.”
The country siren said that, when not singing, she devotes her time to children through her work as a grade school guidance counselor. At her job in Webster Elementary in Hillsboro, White helps children through tough academic and emotional times. She said she’ll continue to work with kids as long as time permits. Her husband Raegan serves as the principal of Fayetteville High School in Brown County.
“I am a fourth and fifth grade elementary school counselor,” said White. “I basically help the kids that are struggling academically or emotionally. I help the principal a lot too. I was an art teacher for four years and wanted to do something different. As long as time will permit me, I’ll continue. As long as I’m able to do this, I’ll do it.”
White said that her shot at fame came unexpectedly, and nearly ended before it began. White, who is signed with Lick Records, sort of stumbled onto the online talent search after a referral from a friend. Star Tomorrow originally featured 100 bands performing original music. Each week, bands are paired up and viewers go online to see their performance and pick their favorite. The final 20 contestants may end up in a televised version of the contest, but White said that it wasn’t a certainty yet.
“We had a friend who was going to be on ‘Deal Or No Deal,’ and while filling out the applications for that they saw information on this show,” said White. “We sent a DVD in and that was several months ago. We forgot about it, but got a call saying that we were chosen in the top 100 and they wanted us to come out that week and film.”
Of course, the short notice, said White, made for a lot of quick decisions and huge scheduling conflicts. When it was all said and done, only one of her band members – Robin Waddell – was able to attend. Waddell is also a founding member of Lick Records.
“We had to have all of our paperwork in on a Saturday and fly out Monday,” said White. “My rhythm guitarist and I were the only ones freed up enough to go out. He’s a great guy, he’s been my manager with Lick Records. He’s helped me get my name out there. That was in July. This is the second round of the show, I made it through the first which narrowed it down to 50.”
Now, White is waiting to see if her country act, the only country act in the contest, will beat out a folk singer from California. However, whether she wins or not, White said that the experience was definitely worth the effort.
“It was great,” said White. “I’ve never been to California before, so that was neat. Filming was nerve wracking. You have eight cameras bouncing around you while you play and you don’t know what one to look at. We actually got to go shoot part of a Nissan commercial for over two hours. We did four songs for the show. We were there for a long time, we made our trip worthwhile.”
For more information on White, go to her website at www.jonaleewhite.com or to www.lickrecords.com. For more on the contest, go to www.startomorrow.com.