The rock band McCrae was named the winner of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent for 2019 on Saturday.
The Sauk Valley-based band wowed the judges and crowds at a finale concert featuring the competition’s Top 10 finalists at the Little Italy Fest-West at Addison’s Centennial Park. McCrae performed their original song “Lonely Place,” which featured a guest brass contingent for the climax.
“This song is kind of about finding a place in this world,” said McCrae lead vocalist/guitarist Bradley McClendon from the stage. “It really talks about how sometimes you have to sit down and breathe and really find your voice.”
Along with McClendon of Sterling, the core of McCrae features drummer Ben Vanderlaan of Morrison and bassist Miles Glenn of Dixon. As in the finale, McCrae brought in musical guests to expand upon their original songs like “Giants” for the previous rounds of competition held at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.
“In the end, it was McCrae’s versatility and the fact that they changed up their act, but still remained with the same personality,” said judge Scott May, who is also the keyboardist for the band The Ides of March.
Joining May on the finale judging panel was Ron Onesti, the president and CEO of Onesti Entertainment and the Arcada Theatre, and Daily Herald theater critic and legal affairs reporter Barbara Vitello.
“I’d be proud to have any one of these performers on our stage,” said Onesti before announcing the winner. He also offered many of the Top 10 finalists the possibility of being as an opener for touring acts playing the Arcada.
As the grand prize winner, McCrae receives a development package with website development, a custom video, mentor and photo sessions. The winner also gets the choice of a trip for two to either Nashville to meet with music agencies or Cleveland to see the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (airfare, hotel and $200 cash are included with either trip).
Live performances are also in the grand prize package, including headlining a concert and an opening slot for a national act at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. There is also an opening concert spot at Schaumburg’s Septemberfest on Saturday, Aug. 31.
But McCrae wasn’t the only winner. The comic operatic duo Agne & Marty from Downers Grove and Lisle was named the Fan Favorite. The prize features $300 worth of gift cards and the chance to perform at Club Arcada, the Arcada Theatre’s intimate third-floor cabaret space.
The Fan Favorite was decided upon by the general public placing online votes following the Top 20 and Top 15 rounds of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent.
Agne previously competed in Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent in 2012 and 2014 as a solo soprano, but she switched to a more comedic classical material in duetting with countertenor Marty.
Other returning competitors among the Top 10 finalists included Karen Shook of Woodstock (a Top 10 finalist from 2013), The Vaughan Building’s Michael McInerey of La Grange (a solo Top 10 finalist from 2018) and Joey Wilbur of St. Charles (a Top 15 finalist from 2018).
“I’m so glad that we’ve been able to perform alongside you guys,” said McClendon of McCrae to his fellow contestants. “It would be really fun to keep up with you guys and hopefully get to play with you guys again.”
The eighth season of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group and Salon Lorrene.
• • •
Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent 2019 Winner
Where: Septemberfest at Robert O. Atcher Municipal Center, 101 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg, (847) 895-4500 or villageofschaumburg.com
Showtime: 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31 (opening act to “Boy Band Review” at 6:30 p.m. and “The Rocket Man Show — Tribute to Elton John” at 8:30 p.m.)
Admission: $10 one-day pass; $25 three-day pass
• • •
Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent 2019 finalists
Where: Street Fest at Randhurst Village, 1 Randhurst Village Drive, Mount Prospect, (847) 259-0500 or randhurstvillage.com
Select finalists: 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 (opening act for 7th Heaven at 3 p.m.)