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Essex Singer/Songwriter Finals on Sunday

Two residents from Caldwells competing in Modern Music Academy's first singer/songwriter competition.

The Modern Music Academy in Montclair recently launched its first Essex Singer Songwriter Competition—one designed to benefit local charities while also handing out a boatload of great prizes.

And, after a nail-biting semi-final contest this past weekend at in Montclair, the academy has narrowed the field of talented contestants down to eight fabulous finalists.

They are:

1) Steve Lovell-Newark

2) Ron Vreeland-Franklin

3) Jon Provan-West Caldwell

4) Joe Ghermann-Kearny

5) Vern Lee-Montclair

6) Maria Dontas-North Caldwell

7) Kayla Correa-Clifton

8) Maya Bensalem-Montclair

On Sunday, these finalists will go head to head at in Montclair at 5 p.m. If you want to see these finalists compete—in an event described as American Idol-esque—come out to Just Jake's and simply pay a $10 cover. All proceeds at the door will go to five area non-profits—YMCA of Montclair, the NECC, Parents Who Rock, Toni's Kitchen, and Zimm's Fund.

"We hope to see a lot of people come out for this exciting competition that will also benefit our local charities," said Alma Schneider, founder of Parents Who Rock. "Bring your dad for a unique Father's Day experience."

Sunday's competition has been weeks in the making.

Earlier this year, The Modern Music Academy, which opened at 129 Grove Street in December, asked budding songwriters to apply by June 1 for the chance to record a three-song EP with Jarrett Zellea, a two-time Grammy Award-winning producer, a prize valued at over $6,000.

Additional prizes from sponsors—as well as producing sessions, recording sessions, and music lessons—also were announced.

Contestants were asked to video themselves singing an original song. Those who wanted to vote on the winners were then asked to donate a dollar every time they voted for their favorite songwriter. That led to last weekend's semi-final contest at Whole Foods.

“The contest serves as an opportunity for local singer/songwriters to gain exposure and have valuable producing time,” said Zellea, co-director and producer at The Modern Music Academy.

So come on out Sunday to Just Jake's and cheer on your favorite finalists.

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