FutureStars 2019: Pioneer’s Samiyah Wheeler Leans On Audience Cheers

Read the original article with photos at weloveannarbor.com.

This is the third in a series of features on artists performing this weekend at Pioneer Theatre Guild’s FutureStars 2019 which returns for its 17th year at Pioneer High School’s Schreiber Auditorium.

Samiyah Wheeler may have a touch of nervousness, but she doesn’t let that stop her. After all, the show must go on.

“Before I hit the stage I get extremely shaky and nervous because I have stage fright,” said the Pioneer High School junior, who will perform in the upcoming FutureStars 2019 competition. “But once I start and hear support in the audience I feel a lot more comfortable.”

Wheeler and about 60 other high school students from throughout Ann Arbor will compete to get to the Jan. 26 Finals of FutureStars2019, where talent comes together from a diverse group to sing pop songs in front of a packed Schreiber Auditorium at Pioneer High School. Upwards of 1,500 are expected for the Finals. This, after four preliminary shows.

It’s the 17th annual rendition of FutureStars, presented by the Pioneer Theatre Guild. It comprises two preliminary shows on Friday, Jan. 18; two more preliminary shows on Saturday, Jan. 19; and then the Finals on Jan. 26. It is an amazing display of local talent, and it has become a tradition of high-power energy featuring Ann Arbor’s young stars.

Some students will sing more than one number to give themselves a better chance of reaching the Finals. Wheeler is one of those competitors.

“I will be singing one solo, one duet and one trio,” Wheeler said. “I will be performing for all shows except Beatlemania.”

Each of the four preliminary competitions feature a musical theme: Beatlemania; #RESPECT Strong Women/Powerful Voices; Totally ‘80s and myTunes, hits from the past year.

“All kinds of pop music will be featured,” said Jayme Kelmigian, producer of FutureStars 2019. “It’s great entertainment, and it’s a bonus that it’s good music being performed by some top-notch local talent.”

Wheeler may not have known that one day she’d be in a singing competition, but she knew early on that singing would be a passion.

“I first became interested in singing at a really young age because my mom is also a singer,” Wheeler said. “She would always play Sade and Jill Schott albums in the car.”

Samiyah’s mother, Danielle Wheeler, isn’t the only musical influence in her life. It goes back a little further than that.

“My grandma and I used to go out and sing ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ whenever it would rain,” Samiyah Wheeler said.

Samiyah is a Pioneer Theatre Guild member, and she has some musical performers she looks up to, as well as people she looks up to in everyday life.

“Some role models for me are Janelle Monae, Zendaya and my family,” she said, naming her mom, grandmother and father Eugene Hurd, Jr.

Approximately 80 acts comprising about 60 students will vie for the title throughout the five shows. And, not only is there quantity, but there is quality.

“You wouldn’t believe the talent that we have right here in Ann Arbor,” said Kelmigian. “The audience leaves with smiles on their faces.”

Speaking of smiles, Samiyah Wheeler says happiness is a key goal in her life, not only for herself, but for others.

“If I could choose anything to do in my life it would be just making people happy,” she said. “I’ve dreamed to become a therapist so I can help people to reach a happier place in their life.”


PRELIMINARY SHOWS, all tickets $10
Friday, Jan. 18
7 p.m.: Beatlemania
9:30 p.m.: #RESPECT Strong Women/Powerful Voices
Saturday, Jan. 19
7 p.m.: Totally ‘80s
9:30 p.m.: myTunes Top Hits from the past year

FINAL COMPETITION, Adults $15; Seniors, Students, PHS Staff $10
Saturday, Jan. 26
7:30 p.m. (Reserved Seating)

Tickets available at https://a2tix.com/organizations/pioneer-theater-guild or at the door the night of the shows.

by Jeff Barr