'American Idol' Alums Erika Van Pelt, Jen Hirsh and John Stevens Team Up For Holiday Concert
Finalists from seasons three and 11 will perform together for the first time joining the Beantown Swing Orchestra in Providence on Dec. 9.
Erika Van Pelt, a top 10 finalist from season 11, will team up with that season’s top 24 contestant Jen Hirsh and season three top 10 finalist John Stevens when they sing with the 36-piece Boston-based Beantown Swing Orchestra at a holiday concert in Providence, R.I. on Sunday, Dec. 9.
The event will bring Rhode Island native Van Pelt back to the 1,900-seat Veterans Memorial Auditorium for the first time since she was a high school student. “My [school] choral director encouraged me to enter every state competition and festival there was,” Van Pelt tells The Hollywood Reporter. Back then I did every year of All State, All State Jazz Choir and New England Chorus. I even represented Rhode Island as one of few [members of] the MENC National Choir.”
Stevens and Hirsh have been performing with the Beantown Swingtown Orchestra both live and on recordings on a regular basis. The big band was planning a holiday concert with those two vocalists, according to founder and director Frank Hsieh. “I mentioned this two-Idol concert to one of my trumpet players, Eric Bloom, and he told me we should call on a singer in one of his other bands, since she was also on Idol and is from Rhode Island,” Hsieh tells THR. “I had no idea he played in the Sultans of Swing band with Erika. I did know that Jen was good friends with Erika while on the show, so I asked Jen to see if Erika would be interested in playing with us, and while she was waiting to perform on one of the last Idol tour shows she texted back that she was.”
“Eric and I have played together in the Sultans for about five years now,” Van Pelt elaborates. “He is a good friend, and very talented, one of the best trumpet players around. He has a really good musical sensibility. The Sultans were my introduction into the wonderful world of weddings and corporate events. I started singing with them after one of their singers heard me doing karaoke one night. They were more than excited for me when I began my Idol journey.”
The Providence holiday concert will mark the first time Van Pelt and Hirsh will sing on stage together outside of American Idol, and the first time that Van Pelt and Stevens will perform together. “Jen and I talked constantly about performing together during and after Idol,” says Van Pelt. “We were very close on the show, and roommates from about top 60 until she was eliminated from the show. She was always one of my favorites, and I was sad to see her go. When we were rehearsing for the summer tour, I got to see her in her own element at a show in Los Angeles. Her sound is invigorating. I love listening to her sing, so getting to do this concert with her will be amazing. We already have a special duet planned.”
Van Pelt remembers watching Stevens compete on season three. “I loved John's voice. He has a great tone and a great ear for jazz, which I am a huge fan of. I've never sung with him or met him. Doing this concert together is going to be a big treat for me.”
Tickets are now on sale for the holiday concert, with a limited number of VIP tickets that include a meet-and-greet with the three Idols before the show.