Kollaboration Seattle

The third annual Kollaboration Seattle took place on October 12th, 2012 in downtown Seattle at the STG Moore Theatre. Despite having only existed for a quarter of the time since the start of the Kollaboration movement twelve years ago, Kollaboration Seattle has proved to be successful by showing that there’s certainly no shortage of local talent to represent the Emerald city!

As for the judges this year, there was a total of six, all of whose backgrounds were just as diverse as the talents of the competitors. They were: Shannon Lee (singer/actor, Bruce Lee’s daughter), James Sun (co-founder and CEO of Pirq, finalist on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice”), Mimi Jung (King 5 reporter), Yuji Okumoto (actor, “Pearl Harbour” “Inception”), Eugene Cho (lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle) and last but not least, Gowe (a competitor from the first Kollaboration Seattle).

Moving into the competition, this year there were six competitors all competing for the grand prize of $1000 and the opportunity to advance to compete at the finale show in LA as well as the MNET Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong! The competitors were: singer Nate Vibez, dance troupe Natya, singer/songwriter Hannah Hipolito, fusion band Pentatonics, rappers J-Pros, and songstress Ariel Yang. Along with the competition were guest performances including: last year’s winners from Kollaboration Seattle 2, Lion’s Ambition; local dance group, Chapter 1NE; and YouTube personalities, Cathy Nguyen and Joseph Vincent!

The night kicked off with Lion’s Ambition performing their hit, “Memories.” With a sound like no other and a dancing Lion mascot to hype up the crowd, the six-membered band brought the noise while the performance itself set the tone for the rest of the night, loud and Seattle-proud!

The first competitor to take the stage that night was Nate Vibez, a soulful singer whose vocal abilities proved that he was a worthy competitor in this fierce competition!

Following Nate was the University of Washington’s premiere Indian classical dance team. Their performance was lively on all levels; from the stunning make-up and costumes to the vivacious music selection that backed their dance performance, Natya captivated the audience and had them following their every move.

Next up was Hannah Hipolito with her original song, “Sing With Me.” She needed nothing more than her charming voice and guitar to show the audience that she was a force to be reckoned with. What was notable about her performance was midway through the song when she demonstrated her ability to rap (in addition to her singing and guitar playing) and proved herself to be a triple threat. Not to mention the enormous roar that erupted after her performance from her enthusiastic fans, she was a definite crowd pleaser!

The first half of the competition was now complete. Special guests, Chapter 1NE were then invited on stage where they performed an outstanding, hard-hitting dance routine to the delight of the audience.

There was a short intermission and a freestyle competition for both dancers and vocalists from the audience to compete for the chance to win $100 each (presented by KAC Washington). The winner of the vocal competition was EJ of Kent, after winning over the crowd with his rendition of Adele’s “One and Only.”

Perhaps we’ll see him next year at Kollaboration Seattle 4. After all, two of the six competitors from this year’s competition (Nate Vibez and Hannah Hipolito) were both participants in last year’s freestyle competition!

The second half of the competition began when Pentatonics, a Chinese instrumental fusion band from Vancouver, Canada, took to the stage. Their modern take on the traditional instruments was unbelievable! The band played a medley of mainstream pop songs including: The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got a Feeling,” Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” and brought the house down with PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” (Dance moves and cool shades included).

Following was a group that was reminiscent of the rap scene back in the 90’s! With a DJ and two MC’s, rap group, J-Pros had the audience amped with their arms waving and voices echoing “Go DJ, go DJ go!”

Ariel Yang was the last competitor of the night. She may not have looked like she was much competition- walking on stage in her bright blue jammies and larger-than-life teddy bear companion- but once she had the microphone in her hand… things got real. Her theatrical performance demonstrated her astonishing vocal range that started as this cutesy children’s performer but was disrupted with sudden bursts of amazing opera!

Though Ariel may have been the last competitor, the night continued with guest performances from YouTubers, Cathy Nguyen and Joseph Vincent. While the judges were deliberating over the competition’s winner, Cathy took to the stage to perform her rendition of Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me,” followed by an original (yes you read that correctly) song that she wrote years and years ago called “Changed.” Her heartfelt performance was truly touching.

Joseph Vincent graced the stage as the last performer of the night. The adoring crowd was treated to a four-song set in which he performed a medley (Maroon 5’s “Payphone,” Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend,” and other Maroon 5 hit, “Sunday Morning.”), a track off his newly released album of the same title “Blue Skies,” a duet with Cathy Nguyen in which they sang Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” and lastly a JV fan-favourite, “If You Stay.”

It was finally time to announce the grand prize winner but before they were revealed, there were two awards additional awards being given away. The first was the Verizon Wireless Audience Choice award, where the audience members voted for their favourite acts by texting in their performer’s code. The second award was the YesStyle.com Most Creative Award. According the audience, Natya was the favourite of the night; they took home a cheque for $500! Hannah Hipolito and her triple threat act won for Most Creative; she took home $100 cash as well as a $400 certificate for YesStyle.

It was time to settle down for they would finally be revealing the winner of Kollaboration Seattle 3. The grand prize winner for $1000 and the chance to compete in the finale in LA… was none other than the powerhouse vocalist, Ariel Yang for her impressive Opera act! Congratulations, Ariel!

The host that night was stand-up comedian, as well as founder and former Executive Director for 10 years of Kollaboration, Paul “PK” Kim. His attempts to stall time in between performances for stage set-ups was wildly entertaining. One anecdote he shared that night was a question he had asked his father regarding his birth and whether or not it was an accident, to which his father responded, “There are no accidents in God’s kingdom. Only regret.” All of his jokes, whether they were about an ambitious North Korean comedian, his children, or the meaning of stubbing one’s toe, kept the audience in good spirits and entertained throughout the night.

Current Executive Director of Kollaboration Seattle, Kevin Park, ended the night with some words of encouragement. Park emphasized the importance of big dreams and went on to explain how Kollaboration was more than a talent show, that it was a movement “to provide a stage so our [Asian] brothers and sisters can express themselves in a positive way.” Thanks Kollaboration Seattle for inviting us to this empowering event! It was one inspiring night and we hope to see you again next year!