The Island Today: 3 singers advance towards ‘Big Break’


A trio of singer-songwriters, Julia Hayden, Paris Ray and Lydia Von Hof, were winners of the second-round of Gold Coast Arts Center’s ‘Your Big Break’ Talent Competition, and will go on to the finals, April 1.

With the first-round winners, singer-songwriters Julia Lambert, Jaclyn Manfredi, and Alex Mendes, this seals the line up for the finals, on April 1, taking place at the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck.

Julia Hayden brought presence and style to her performance of “Moana” (“I’m a huge Disney person.”); Paris Ray, whose original song, “Astronomy” had marvelous lyrics (“I became an astronaut to give you space”); Lydia Von Hof, who has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera, brought her rich vocal talent to an excellent rendition of Adele’s “When We Were Young” and Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.”
The other five performers also impressed the judges and audience with their original music as well as covers and live musical accompaniment:  Tessa Field (whose original song, dedicated to her mother who passed away, featured this line, “don’t know what to do when I see my smile in pictures of you,”), Taylor Hogan (her original song was “Sane Wonderland”, and two bands, City Alley and Times Like These.

GCAC-BigBreak2_031117_091e2(c) Karen Rubin-Paris Ray

The “Big Break” is not just a clever title. The young performers are competing for prizes that could well launch their career.

Winners are up for prizes including the chance to open for national acts at major venues like The Paramount, recording time at DCITY Studios and Online TV streaming opportunities, a feature on, musical equipment from All Music Inc. and ZOOM North America, a PR and social media campaign including management, booking and label services consultation with Rick Eberle Agency.

Mentors assigned to the finalists also work to help them hone their craft before performing at the finals. 2017 mentors are still to be announced but last year’s included singer/songwriter Ryan Star, John Hampson of Nine Days, and songwriter/producer Ido Zmishlany.

Judges are major players in the music industry including:’s Lou Plaia, All Music Inc.’s Guy Brogna, Label Executives Stephen Marcuccio, Jerry Lembo, Mark Ambrosino.

The evening was capped with a headlining performance by singer-songwriter Matt Grabowski who was last year’s winner.

GCAC-BigBreak2_031117_114e2(c) Karen Rubin-Lydia Van Hof

Your Big Break is hosted by the Gold Coast Arts Center’s Acoustic Café and Love Revolution Org.

The contestants for Your Big Break were selected from 1,000 submissions in response to an open call for musicians age 15 to 25 who do not currently have a recording or publishing contract.

The artists have to perform with a band or solo with an acoustic guitar or band or sing to a backing music track. There is no fee to submit.

The Arts Center is transformed into the Gold Coast Acoustic Café once a month, a music venue that showcases local up-and-coming talent as well as established music acts. With its black box theater performance space and a lounge in the art gallery, the Gold Coast Acoustic Café is one of the few small music venues around which makes for a special and intimate atmosphere for artists and audience alike, especially during Your Big Break.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for general seating and the first act will perform starting at 8:00 p.m. each night.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults. Snacks are available for purchase.

The Gold Coast Arts Center located at 113 Middle Neck Road in Great Neck. Call 516-829-2570 or go to

GCAC-BigBreak2_031117_025e2(c) Karen Rubin-Julia Hayden_Clipped


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