Students Become DC-CAPital Stars on Kennedy Center Stage


Purple Rain was in the forecast for the DC-CAPital Stars Fundraiser at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts last Wednesday.  Locally produced talent, from across all four Wards, took the stage at the Eisenhower Theater to compete for college scholarship funds and to pay homage to music legend, Prince.

In the event’s ninth year, $750,000 was raised to support DC-College Access Program initiatives such as awarding college scholarships, college application assistance, financial aid counseling and more.

The DC-CAPital Stars finalist were selected after a rigorous city-wide talent search that began with a series of more than 250 auditions in fall 2016. After a tally of nearly 4,000 online votes and input from a local panel of independent professional local artist, the top ten candidates were selected to showcase their skills at the Kennedy Center.

The role of the audience was critical in sealing the fate for one of the ten finalist performing. Audience members voted using handheld devices and ranked each performance from 1 to 5. Winners were determined 50% by judges input and 50% based on audience vote.


Finalist pose with celebrity judges Patti Austin, Hinton Battle, Lana “MC Lyte” Moorer and Donnie Simpson.

The diverse range of talent was astonishing and a true reminder that the arts are alive and thriving here in our city. Here are the finalists that stole the show and were given scholarship funds to help drive their dreams:

– 1st prize winner, pianist Andrew Price, 17, a senior at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, won the $10,000 college scholarship grand prize.
– 2nd prize winner vocal-rap artist Myah Parker, 17, a senior at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School, won a $6,000 college scholarship.
– 3rd prize went to steel pan player Niara Lara, 17, a senior at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, won a $4,000 college scholarship.


Niara Lara plays “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan on the steel pan.

Leon Harris, the Master of Ceremonies, summed up the importance of the supporting DC-CAP, “We have a chance to change the kids that will change this place (D.C.) and change our world.”

Since 1999, in partnership with DCPS and DCPCS, the College Access Program has helped double the number of D.C. students who enroll in college and tripled the number who graduate. Celebrating 18 years of changing lives, DC-CAP has helped 27,000 students enroll in college, supports 7,300 students currently enrolled in more than 600 colleges and universities across the US. To date, they have supported 8,200 (and counting) college graduates who otherwise would have never had the opportunity to continue their education.


DC-CAP Board Chairman Ted Leonsis honors Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg, thanking him and the entire Boeing team for their commitment to education and the tremendous support they have given DC-CAP throughout the years.

*Photos courtesy Hyon Smith

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