The Hi-Tops, a five girl band from Jeffersonville, Ind., captured second place last Saturday night, Jan. 23, 2012, in Anaheim, Calif., in a national “battle of the bands” competition. The event was the third annual School Jam USA contest, sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM. At stake was an all-expense paid trip to the world competition in Frankfurt, Germany, this March.
The Hi-Tops, who were featured in Louisville.com last Oct., (The Hi-Tops: Five talented teens in town [music], were also recognized for the “Fan Favorite” award of the competition; that is, they received the most text message “votes” during the “internet live” finals competition.
Bayley Whitlow, 13, was also acknowledged as the “Best Bass Player” of the contest. Not only was she perhaps the youngest performer, she was the only female bass player.
“It was the best experience the girls ever had,” said Kim Elliot, the group’s manager.
“The coolest thing they did was having an (impromptu) jam session in one of the hotel rooms with the other finalists . . . 12 to 15 kids.”
The girls made it to Anaheim as one of eight bands selected. Originally, 119 bands from across the country entered the contest. Each band had to submit three original songs. The grading by the judges counted for 60 per cent, and included technical skills, originality, and overall impression in the criteria. The other 40 per cent was the public’s voting, via email, in the entire month of Nov. 2011. The eight winners were announced on Dec. 5, 2011.
The band did more than just perform at the competition. The Hi-Tops boarded a plane, and left for Anaheim on Wednesday, Jan. 18th. The next evening they attended a special reception for the bands at the ESPN Zone, a very nice sports restaurant. On Friday morning, the group attended workshops that focused on “the business end” of running a musical band. Friday afternoon, they attended the NAMM show, which is primarily for vendors, store owners and buyers; it draws over 90,000 people each year.
Saturday night, at 8 p.m. Eastern time, the School Jam contest started.
The Hi-Tops took to the stage around 9 p.m. Later on, when the dust settled, Remington Maxwell, lead vocalist and guitarist, said she “was super surprised that we had finished second, because all of the other bands were so great.”
After receiving the second place prize, the Hi-Tops left the stage, still celebrating their “victory,” when they were summoned back up to the stage -- this time to receive the “Fan Favorite” award.
“We weren’t paying attention,” said Maxwell, “when they called us back up on stage. We were freaking out . . . we did not even know what we had won.”
Meanwhile, Bayley Whitlow’s response to winning “Best Bass Player,” was “I was shocked and amazed. I’m still trying to process it.”
She also had a word for all of the Hi-Tops’ supporters.
“Thank you for all of your support, and without you we would not have been able to accomplish our success to date.”
Maxwell, thinking about the group’s most recent success, waxed philosophically, as she reflected on the band’s purpose.
“We’re just a group of five teenage girls who love what we do and perform to make other people happy. We love to have others dance and sing along with us.”
Lots of people flock to Anaheim, Calif., each year to visit Disneyland, and are “changed” by their experience.
The Hi-Tops returned from Anaheim on Sunday night, Jan. 22nd, only four days after they left Louisville, but were undoubtedly forever changed by a place known for fantasy and dreams.
Photo by: Sandy Madill