The Island Today: 3 acts take step toward big break

Julia Lambert. (Photo by Karen Rubin)

Singer-songwriters Julia Lambert, Jaclyn Manfredi and the band Barely Know Her were winners of Knockout Round of the Gold Coast Arts Center’s 5th annual Your Big Break talent competition.

Lambert and Manfredi, who won the judges’ tally, and Barely Know Her who won the audience vote, will go on to the finals on Saturday, April 1.

The next round will take place on Saturday, March 11 at the Gold Coast Arts Center.

Manfredi, 17, brings a sultry style reflecting jazz, blues and R&B influences, and has performed at the Apollo Theater.

She was a finalist at the 2016 Your Big Break.

GCAC-YrBigBreak1_021117_249e2(c) Karen Rubin-Katie-Lennon
Katie Lennon. (Photo by Karen Rubin)

Lambert who used to perform with the band Nexus, is now solo and performed an original song, “Closer.”

Barely Knew Her is a five-piece band from the South Shore with a solid horn section and an amazing drummer.

The other performers included Kayla Muro, a 17-year old who describes her music as “Alt Pop”; Sabrina Ali, 22, who has performed at the Bitter End and was a contestant at 16-years-old on “American Idol” and “The Voice” (her grandfather was a Bollywood legend and her mother is an actress); Sydney Perruzza who did a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Speechless,” E.J. Carey who is a powerhouse who packs punch; Samantha Daniels, who has been performing since she was 16; Alex Mendes, who brings her classical training in opera and musical theater to a rich and impassioned performance that evoked in my mind Tina Turner.

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.

GCAC-YrBigBreak1_021117_186e2(c) Karen Rubin-Barely Know Her
Barely Know Her. (Photo by Karen Rubin)

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, songwriter Tara Eberle Drouin and label executives Stephen Marcuccio, Jerry Lembo, Linda Ingrisano, Mark Ambrosino.

The evening was capped with a headlining performance by Lennon & Katie, a duo formed from past finalists, Lennon from the band Youth Be Told and Katie Zimmer who is now the lead singer in Youth Be Told.

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 out of 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 sing to a backing music track.

There is no fee to submit.

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Jaclyn Manfredi. (Photo by Karen Rubin)

The Arts Center is transformed into the Gold Coast Acoustic Cafe 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 Cafe 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.

Other past artists who have performed in the headline slots have included: Iridesense, John Hampson of Nine Days, The Brady Brothers, and Sir Cadian Rhythm – all of whom are local musicians who have had major success in the industry, with hopes to further inspire the next generation of New York stars presented each year.

The next round takes place Saturday, March 11 at the Gold Coast Arts Center.

On deck to perform are Alex Norwood, Julia Hayden, Monique Thompson, Tessa field, Paris Ray, Taylor Hogan, Lydia Von Hof and Pocketphuzz.

The headliner is Lem Payne, Jr.

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

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults.

Snacks are available for purchase.

The Gold Coast Arts Center is located at 113 Middle Neck Road in Great Neck.

For more information, call 516-829-2570 or go to

GCAC-YrBigBreak1_021117_286e2(c) Karen Rubin
(Photo by Karen Rubin)


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