After receiving hundreds of submissions from across the New York metro area, MSG Varsity chose 32 singers and dancers to compete on its new series "MSG Varsity's Talent Show," which premieres this Sunday at 6 p.m.
Danny Ward, a freshman at , was one of the lucky performers to make the cut. Ward will compete in the "Male Vocalist" category against seven other high-schoolers and the winner, who will be chosen by viewer votes, will be announced on June 12.
Patch spoke with Ward about how he's preparing for the contest and what having a professional singing career would mean to him.
Patch: Hi Danny, congratulations on getting on the show! How did you find out about the talent show and why did you decide to enter?
Ward: I found out about the show actually by my mother, who just happened to be watching MSG Varsity, and she saw the commercial on the last night before entries closed. I entered the contest because I had never been involved in a formal singing competition, but have always wanted to.
Patch: What song or songs did you sing for your submission and why did you choose them?
Ward: I sang "Hero" by Mariah Carey, "Small Town" by John Mellencamp and "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Jimmy Ruffin. I decided to choose "Hero" because I love to sing challenging songs by such talented performers such as Mariah Carey. I looked at "Hero" as a challenge that I was excited to take. I chose "Small Town" because I had never sang a country song before. Lastly, I chose "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" because when I was watching Ruffin, I thoroughly enjoyed not only the words and meanings to the songs, but mostly the stage presence Jimmy Ruffin possessed.
Patch: How did you feel when you found out you made the cut and how did you find out?
Ward: I was so excited when I found out about that I made the cut! It was such a great accomplishment! My mom told me once I got home from school!
Patch: Are you a member of a choir? How long have you been singing?
Ward: I have been singing my whole life! My mom recently told me that when I was little I would walk around my house singing anything and everything. I started becoming serious with my singing in fourth grade. And yes, I am involved with my choir at school.
Patch: Do you want to pursue a singing career after graduation or are you interested in something else?
Ward: I would love to go to school for music! It is my absolute dream to have music as a career.
Patch: What do you love most about performing in front of other people? Do you get nervous? If so, how do you deal with that?
Ward: I love the adrenaline before a performance and the feeling of accomplishment after performing. Sometimes I get nerves before, but I believe that nerves strengthen my performances.
Patch: Who are your favorite singers and why?
Ward: My favorite singer currently is Nicki Minaj because she stands for being who you are, and doesn't try to be someone that she's not. She's amazing.
Patch: Are you a fan of other talent shows, such as "American Idol?" What do you think about them?
Ward: I used to be a fan of "American Idol," but recently I have changed my mind because I believe that they do not offer all of the people a good opportunity. So many talented people audition and don't get through.
Patch: Have you ever performed in Stamford outside of school or church?
I have performed many times in Stamford. Whether it was performing at the Inauguration in 09', at Curtain Call, which is truly a second home to me, at the Town Hall for Veterans Day, or simply in shows for my school. I've also performed in the Stamford Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Patch: What other activities or hobbies are you interested in?
Ward: I love to play basketball and tennis.
Patch: What are you favorite hangout spots in Stamford?
Ward: My favorite hang out spots in Stamford are , , and the movies.
Patch: Who would you say is most influential in your life?
Ward: The most influential person in my life is not a single person but a whole group. My family, in general, are my influences. They are the best support system I could ever ask for. Two very significant family friends, Sheila Mara and family, and the Salem family, truly are second families to me, and have taught me so much not only in the performing arts, but also about life in general. I am thankful for my family and friends everyday.
Patch: How are you preparing for the MSG Varsity contest?
Ward: I am preparing for the premiere of the show simply by just letting as many people as I know to vote! There's not much else to do!
Patch: And what comes next if you win?
Ward: Whether I win this contest or not, I realize how lucky I am to have had this amazing opportunity. I will still remain the striving performer no matter what the outcome of this contest.