Tag Archives: New Orleans

Forest Hills opera singer competing for America’s vote on ‘AGT’ this week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC


A Texas-born, afro-sporting woman who enjoys football and mixed martial arts is not who most people imagine when they think of an opera singer.

That viewpoint is exactly what Forest Hills resident Olanna Goudeau is trying to prove wrong.

Goudeau, 32, and musical partner Ashley Renée Watkins, 29, will be singing for America’s vote Tuesday night in the hopes of spreading opera to a larger audience and winning $1 million.

“People feel [opera] is not accessible and not familiar to them,” Goudeau said. “We kind of want to be ambassadors for the art form.”

The singing duo, Acte II, is one of 48 acts that made it to the season nine “America’s Got Talent” quarterfinals, where they get to appear live at Radio City Music Hall and compete for viewers’ votes.

The ladies received yeses from all four judges, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel, in the NBC show’s season nine premiere on May 27. They were so impressed that Acte II was selected to go straight through to the live performances, bypassing a second audition in front of the judges.

Mel B surprised Goudeau with the exciting news at her Queens home.

“I was completely shocked,” Goudeau said. “I didn’t say hello or invite her in.”

Before making it to the reality show stage, Goudeau’s love for singing started in church and with gospel music. As she grew older, she was introduced to classical music. But her focus on singing and opera as a career came in college.

After switching from a computer science major to music, she thought her program would focus on jazz music, since she was attending Dillard University in New Orleans. But to her surprise, she learned the classics and her passion for opera was born.

It was also at Dillard that she met Watkins, but they didn’t become friends until Goudeau was working on her master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and Watkins was one of several Dillard students the school hosted following Hurricane Katrina.

They grew closer when they both were a part of Opera New Jersey one summer. The idea for Acte II started as way for them to find more singing opportunities in Europe and to do a concert tour.

“We enjoyed singing together,” Goudeau said. “So we were like, why don’t we make this official?”

The name and the group came to represent more.

“We wanted to make our own opportunities,” Goudeau said. “It’s like a second phase in life.”

The same weekend they were set to have their first concert, at the First AME Church: Bethel in Harlem, where Goudeau is currently an artist-in-residence, “America’s Got Talent” was holding auditions.

“We were so nervous that [the judges] wouldn’t accept opera,” she said. The pair both had their “afros out” and dressed like “everyday people.”

The judges not only accepted the art form, but were surprised by their voices.

“That was a moment and that was your moment,” Mel B said, adding that the performance made the hair on her arms stand up.

On Tuesday they will need to garner the same reaction from viewers. And Goudeau, who moved to Queens six years ago to pursue her New York City opera dreams, is asking the borough to vote for one of their own.

“[My family has] embraced Queens so much. I just feel so comfortable here. It’s such a community,” she said. “I hope Queens people vote.”

To watch Acte II perform live on “America’s Got Talent,” tune in on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m. To find out how to vote, visit www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/vote/methods.

UPDATE: Acte II was eliminated in the Wednesday, Aug. 6 episode of “America’s Got Talent.”  To watch Acte II’ s Tuesday night performance, watch the video below. For more information on the singers, visit acteii.com.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 86. Northwest wind 8 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Clear, with a low around 72. West wind around 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: After School Special-Laughing Devil Comedy Club 

Join Jesse Jones as he brings his rowdy comic buddies to this weekly show. After School Special is a show designed to make every week a very special episode. Each Thursday at 8:00 p.m. you will be treated to a mix of alternative comics, mainstream comedians, story tellers and special guests as they hilariously give insight into the life as a stand-up.

Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens man arrested for synagogue crime spree

A man who stole valuable Torah relics from a Kew Gardens Hills synagogue earlier this month was arrested Tuesday and also charged with stealing religious items from two other synagogues in Queens this summer, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced today. Read more: Queens Courier

State rejects charter school application for kids of illegal Chinese immigrants

The state has shot down an application to create a year-round, bilingual charter school in Flushing aimed at the children of illegal Chinese immigrants. Lotus King Weiss, the lead applicant of the Whole Elephant Charter School, posted articles on the elementary school’s website about her being attacked in the U.S. due to her controversial Falun Dafa beliefs. Read more: Daily News

Queens judge sues city after alleged transit cop assault

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Ryan calls for a U.S. turnaround, led by Romney

Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, whose budget plans have come to define conservative opposition to President Obama’s governing philosophy, accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination on Wednesday as his party embraced the gamble that the small-government principles he represents have more political payoff than peril. Read more: NY Times

Isaac causing big problems, but proving to be far weaker than Katrina

Hurricane Isaac sidestepped New Orleans on Wednesday, sending the worst of its howling wind and heavy rain into a cluster of rural fishing villages that had few defenses against the slow-moving storm that could bring days of unending rain. Read more: CBS

Mourners say goodbye to man killed outside Empire State Building

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74-year-old gunman tries to shoot his estranged wife in Staten Island bowling alley

A Staten Island bowling alley was turned into a shooting range Wednesday when a 74-year-old man opened fire on his estranged wife. Armando Tritto squeezed off at least three errant shots at Maureen Tritto, 47, as she was preparing to open the snack bar at Rab’s Country Lanes in Dongan Hills, cops said. Read more: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Clear. High of 82. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph shifting to the NNW in the afternoon.Wednesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 64. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph

EVENT of the DAY: Michael Jackson Birthday Bash 

“Do you Remember the Time” when you first saw the King of Pop’s slick moves literally glide across the dance floor? Do you remember singing the lyrics to “Billie Jean” at the top of your lungs? Or maybe, you laid in bed at night visualizing all the moves in the “Thriller” video. Either way, the music lives. On August 29, it is officially Michael Jackson Day at Resorts World Casino New York City. With MJX, the premier MJ Impersonator, and DJ Spinna on the ones and twos, it will be a night to remember.Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Dumping stops in Queens neighborhood

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Suspect charged with killing homeless man in Woodside

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CUNY considers constructing a Queens hotel

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Isaac makes second landfall, levee overtopped in Plaquemines Parish

The center of Hurricane Isaac made a second landfall over Port Fourchon, La., early Wednesday, overtopping a levee southeast of New Orleans, knocking down trees and cutting power to more than 400,000 homes. Read more: ABC News

Republican convention is in full-throated roar

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Venus Williams an easy winner in return to the U.S. Open, beats fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-3, 6-1

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 88. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 66. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Zumba on the Beach

This is the last chance of the summer to take an evening Zumba class at Rockaway Beach. This free Shape Up NYC class is a fusion of Latin, International and popular music dance that features aerobic, fitness interval training with a combination of fast and slow rhythms that tone and sculpt the body with easy to follow dance steps. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

LIRR worker fatally electrocuted in Queens

A Long Island Rail Road worker is dead after he came in contact with the third rail near the Queens Village station.The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says service was temporarily suspended around the area after the accident Monday morning. Read more: AP/Wall Street Journal

Drama brewing over axed arts program in Glendale

Encore! A coalition of parents, teachers and students are rallying behind a displaced Queens drama teacher to ensure this isn’t his curtain call. Theater teacher Evan Behlivanis, 31, was told in late July that his nine-year tenure at Public School/Intermediate School 119 in Glendale was coming to an end due to budget constraints. Read more:  New York Daily News

Tennis fans brave soggy start to U.S. Open

The U.S. Open is back up and running in Queens with scores of eager fans ready for action following a three hour and 15-minute rain delay earlier today. About 700,000 fans are expected to visit Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the 20-day tournament. Read more: NY1

City has just one Parks Enforcement Patrol officer for all of Queens, union charges

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New Yorkers want to throw Department Of Sanitation policy in the trash

New Yorkers are crying foul over a sanitation policy that they say needs to be trashed. “I think it’s crazy that without a warning or anything, it should have been a warning. Unless they’re trying to make money, which is what I think,” Raymond Jansson of Whitestone, Queens told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez on Monday night. Read more: CBS New York

Tropical Storm Isaac takes aim at New Orleans

Tropical Storm Isaac had nearly reached hurricane strength as it bore down on the U.S. Gulf Coast on Tuesday and appeared to be taking direct aim at New Orleans, almost seven years to the day since the Crescent City was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Read more: Reuters

Republican National Convention enlists first Sikh speaker

An American Sikh is scheduled to speak Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., the first time the party has invited a Sikh to speak at a national convention. Read more: New York Times