Hudson's Sara Benoy is among semifinalists in "America's Hot Musician," an American Idol-style show for instrumentalists that's set to debut Jan. 8 on Comcast.
Benoy, who plays the bass, can be seen that day performing a jazz piece she wrote herself, "Chameleon in overdrive," in the first round. She then had to pick a song in the public domain -- she chose "Greensleeves" -- for the second round.
"I was nervous at first, but when I started playing I was fine," Benoy said.
About the value of instrumental performance, she said, "I think that we definitely need that," adding that there has been a slide since the 1990s.
She thinks her chances of winning are good, and that her best attribute is interacting with the audience through actions and visual contact.
The number of contestants will be trimmed from 10 down to two by Jan. 24.
Benoy credits her instructors, Aaron Hilden at Hudson High School and Andy Shuster at Foxtone Music, for her success. The reality-talent competition can be seen on multiple occasions on Channels 14 and 16 on Comcast.
It is being syndicated free to television stations in an effort to promote instrumental music within the MTV-hip hop generation. The program, produced by the American Youth Symphony, a non-profit organization, is also being offered nationwide as a "Public Service Announcement Program." Episode 1 can be viewed on YouTube via the http://www.americashotmusician.org Web site.
The family-oriented program will promote the dying art of instrumental performance, and is given to stations that can insert four minutes of their own ads into the 12-episode, half-hour weekly show. It offers broadcasters the flexibility to air the show anytime within their own schedules.
The judges include Hudson High School choral instructor Kari Heisler, the 2001 Miss Minnesota and a pianist. "Music Makes a Difference" was her platform in the Miss Minnesota and Miss America Pageants.
Another judge is Gregory Charles Royal, a trombonist from the Grammy Award-winning Duke Ellington Orchestra. Royal, who is also the creative producer of the show, was in the original Broadway company of "Five Guys Named Moe" and played in the horn sections of artists including Gladys Knight, The Temptations and The Four Tops.
"Kari and Greg fit in perfectly with our mission -- to produce a fun, entertaining program while raising the consciousness about instrumental music," said Susan Veres, executive director of AYS.
Little Richard, who initially expressed interest in judging on the show, opted to appear instead on Simon Cowell's Celebrity Duets, which is now on Fox.
Little Richard is described as an exciting pianist whose charismatic personality is tailor-made for this trendy television genre, which features instrumentalists as stars.
The competition's would-be stars, ages 16-28, registered for the show during an Internet and high school recruitment campaign. Competitions were held in Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio.
Also planned are a weekly podcast on iTunes and a Web cast. The winner will receive a one-year recording contract.