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Clarksburg man to perform in competition at Heinz Hall

by Gail Marsh

ASSISTANT CITY EDITOR

It's all about the music.

A 21-year-old Clarksburg resident who has been performing since "he was born," is one of nine competitors who will participate in Saturday's Pittsburgh Pops "Search for a Star II."

"I've been around music all my life. My dad would let us sing with his band when I was 6, so it's something I've always wanted to do," said Nick Henry, a saxophone player and a 1998 Robert C. Byrd High School graduate.

The winner of this year's star search, judged by conductor Marvin Hamlisch, will win the chance to perform with the Pops orchestra, as well as be given a 15-minute walk-on role in "Fame -- The Musical," when the touring Broadway production comes to Pittsburgh next month.

Henry, who also sings and plays the guitar and piano, is currently a student at Fairmont State College, with a major in business and a minor in music. He took a semester off recently to perform up and down the East coast with "Subway," a '50s-style area band.

Henry said he found out about the competition through relatives who live in the Pittsburgh area. He submitted a video in October and was chosen from thousands of others to perform before Hamlisch in mid-December. The field was narrowed to nine at that time, two pianists, four singers, two dancers and Henry, with the winner to be named on Sunday.

Of those nine finalists, all are from the greater Pittsburgh area except for Henry. Hamlisch was surprised to find someone in the competition from the Mountain State, Henry said.

"When we were standing there with him he said, 'So you are all from Pittsburgh? and I said, 'No, I'm from West Virginia.'

"When he heard that he just said, 'Interesting, interesting,'" Henry said.

As he did in the December competition, Henry will be performing a classical jazz selection on the saxophone, "Harlem Nocturne," a piece in the John Coltrane style. He'll be joined by three other local musicians, Stephen Pishner, Mark Dinaldo and Mike Roncone. Henry said he's so excited he's finding it hard to sleep.

"When I stepped onto that stage and looked out at all those seats, it was quite a high. I can't wait to do it again. It's addicting," he said.

"Search for a Star II" will be at Heinz Hall tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., with the final on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, call (412) 392-4900.

Assistant City Editor Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at gmarsh@exponent-telegram.com.

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