Thursday, July 5, 2012 , Updated 10:00 a.m., July 9, 2012
Allen High grad stars in July 9 premiere of Opening Act on E!
Arielle O'Keefe got her big break on the biggest stage she could imagine.
DALLAS Allen singer Arielle O'Keefe wandered into Opening Bell Coffee in Dallas one April afternoon -- a place she regularly played open mic nights -- for what she thought was a meeting with the owner. Instead, the crew behind E! Network's new show Opening Act surprised her, helped her pack her bags, and shipped her off to vocal training in Los Angeles for a few days before a surprise gig opening for Rod Stewart in Las Vegas.
Arielle didn't see any of it coming. "I freaked out," she said. "They literally just found me on the Internet. I know: really crazy."
O'Keefe will kick off Opening Act, serving as the first musician featured in the premiere episode on Monday, July 9. The show spotlights one musician per episode, each who is selected by the show's artist development team solely through their YouTube videos. Similar to a one-episode documentary, each burgeoning musician is given five days to train and open for a big-name artist. In addition to Stewart, other people on the show opened for Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, Brad Paisley, and more. Not a competition, the show simply tracks their surprise journey, stripping out the need for auditions, judges, or competitions.
“Please Don’t Go” cover by Arielle
Created by Nigel Lythgoe (American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance), Opening Act follows each artist's journey from their hometown to center stage. And many have a lot of work to do in those short five days. "You have these incredibly talented people who are hooked up and matched with these superstars, but can they really rise to the challenge? It's one thing when you're playing local gigs and putting videos out on YouTube," said Christel Wheeler, spokesperson for E!.
Arielle worked with Antonina Armato from Rock Mafia and vocal coach Nick Cooper, both who gave her "priceless advice" before her gig with Stewart.
Arielle's style of music is soulful pop. Some of her YouTube videos are covers of pop songs, which she sings effortlessly while accompanying herself on the piano. Others show her using a loop station, recording rhythm and harmony for a song and then singing on top of her own tracks.
Arielle, 21, said she was biding her time until someone noticed her.
"I was waiting, preparing, practicing, making connections of my own, traveling to new York and LA, and just trying to get my break," she said. "I knew it would come. I didn't know it would come in the way that it did."
Opening Act premieres July 9 on E!. Arielle will perform that night at Opening Bell, and family and friends will also watch the premiere at the coffee shop.
Later in the season, a second Dallas-area musician will be featured.
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