La PORTE — With only hours remaining before the 14th annual Hoosier Star singing competition, the 12 finalists are readying themselves to take the stage for their big show. Performances are set to begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the La Porte Civic Auditorium.

The Hoosier Star is a highly anticipated benefit concert for the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra. Vocalists will have the opportunity to perform with the symphony orchestra during their performances. Winners will received a cash prize of up to $1,000.

Well-qualified judges have been enlisted to evaluate the competitors performances. One such judge, Julia Campoli, happens to be a former Hoosier Star adult division winner. These days, her life consists of teaching sixth grade science at Schmucker Middle School in Mishawaka and leading worship for Lifeworks Community Church.

Campoli knows better than most what it takes to reach the top of the competition, having taken home the big prize in 2017.

She expects to judge the competitors on a variety of factors including vocal range, quality and articulation. She is also stressing the importance of song selection for the performance.

“I think what would make a contestant stand out is their ability to pick a song that suites their vocal qualities, their vocal range, and their personality,” she said.

Pastor Dewitt Jackson is also looking forward to judging the upcoming performances. Jackson is the senior Pastor of the Revival Center Church of God in Christ in Michigan City. He has performed music workshops around the country and sung background for many gospel recording artists.

In addition to the Hoosier Star committee’s criteria, Jackson will be looking for quality in vocal expression, range and stage presentation from the contestants.

“What would make a contestant stand out from the rest is the quality of their vocals, their song expression, and how much they put into the song for people to feel what they are singing,” said Jackson.

Judge Mary Kay Steele has worked as an ensemble member and soloist for the La Porte County Symphony and is also an award winning actress. She has been seen on stages throughout Northwest Indiana, acting in roles such as, Patsy Cline in Always Patsy Cline, Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein the Musical, Diana in Next to Normal, Maria in Sound of Music, Eliza in My Fair Lady and Adelaide in Guys and Dolls to name a few.

Her on-stage accomplishments and time with the symphony make her uniquely qualified to judge the Hoosier Star. She gave the Hoosier Star Finalists some words of wisdom to ponder before the competition, “Enjoy your time with this magnificent symphony! You each have a unique gift to share and together, you make this a very special night for us, your audience. Thank you for sharing your talents! Enjoy this evening and break-a-leg!”

Tickets for Saturday’s Hoosier Star benefit concert are still available. Additional information can be found at

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