The same week 20 Monroe Live announced The Verve Pipe would play its big 2nd birthday party, Vander Ark presented a $1,000 prize to teen singer Gianna Stansell after a year-long competition. Watch the video.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO OF WINNING COVER SONG
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
As a result, the freshman at Coopersville High School has won $1,000 in Vander Ark’s year-long contest challenging singers and musicians to submit cover versions of his solo songs.
The Verve Pipe frontman gave out a $100 prize to the best submission each month over the past year, culminating in the grand prize awarded to Stansell, who submitted a video of herself performing “Fit to Be Tied” accompanied by guitarist Jeff Oxford.
“I really wasn’t expecting to win the contest, given there were so many submissions from talented artists, so I was super excited when I found out I had won,” said Stansell, who conceded she wasn’t familiar with Vander Ark or The Verve Pipe before hearing about the monthly competition.
“I chose Brian’s song ‘Fit to Be Tied’ because I felt it fit my voice well and allowed me to color the song with my own interpretation.”
‘SHE’S GOING PLACES FOR SURE’
Vander Ark, who wrote the song for his 2008 self-titled solo album, agreed wholeheartedly.
“She did her own version of it, very soulful,” he said. “She made the song hers, a version that I hope she will record someday. Her voice is spectacular and her presence undeniable. … She’s going places for sure.”
More than 100 singers and musicians from around the country submitted entries as part of the year-long contest, which Vander Ark said he launched because there’s “an enormous amount of undiscovered talent out there – not just in West Michigan, but all over the United States.”
“Requiring entries to not choose a Verve Pipe song was the challenge. I imagine I would have gotten more entries, but mostly ‘Colorful’ and ‘The Freshmen,’ ” conceded Vander Ark, who plans to continue the contest due to popular demand. (Entrants must subscribe to his email list.)
Although just a teen, Stansell already has garnered a flood of attention for her singing.
Her first performance came at an elementary school talent show and since then she’s performed in theater productions, competed in rounds of “America’s Got Talent,” was named a finalist in “GR’s Big Talent” competition and won a PBS Celebration of Music talent search competition which will have her performing next summer in a nationally televised Celebration of Music event. She even had a chance last spring to perform for music executives in Los Angeles.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Stansell, who also has studied for years at The Piano Cottage in Grand Rapids. “I definitely want to pursue music and singing in the future. I really am happiest when singing.”
THE VERVE PIPE TO PLAY 20 MONROE LIVE’S 2nd BIRTHDAY, PLANNING NEW ALBUM
News of the contest winner came the same week that 20 Monroe Live announced The Verve Pipe has been selected to play the downtown Grand Rapids venue’s second birthday party concert on Feb. 2.
The Verve Pipe was one of the first Michigan bands to play the new hall in February 2017 and followed up with another performance there last February.
“It’s huge for us – an opportunity to congratulate 20 Monroe on a very successful two years,” said Vander Ark, who insisted the venue has the best stage, sound and lighting in West Michigan.
“I rarely go to concerts, and I’ve been to six (at 20 Monroe Live) already. The Verve Pipe love the room, and the people there. The last two shows were near sellout. To get a couple thousand people in there singing along to every song is a real treat.”
Tickets for the Feb. 2 show go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday (with a presale at 10 a.m. Thursday with the code: MIXTAPE) online here.
Vander Ark added that The Verve Pipe will record a new album in 2019 as well as hit the road, with an ambitious East Coast tour already booked for January.
VIDEO: Gianna Stansell w/ Jeff Oxford, “Fit to Be Tied”
Copyright 2018, Spins on Music LLC