Anthony DeCerbo  &  Jim mayer

2017 performers

Bill ‘Griz’ Stevens

Dody Cosmedy first appeared on the C-U music scene in 1974 in a band called Geyser, having recently graduated from SUNY Potsdam in New York. She has appeared as lead singer and keyboardist for a long list of bands since then, including Pylot and William (joining the band as a replacement for their lead singer who left to join Head East) in the 1970’s, The Edge and No Secret in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and as music arranger, MIDI programmer and alto voice for Vox Humana, a five-part vocal jazz ensemble based in Bloomington. Dody spent eleven years singing and playing keyboards in a revamped version of the No Secret Band along with Tim Frazier and Tim Donaldson. No Secret broke up in late 2010 as life got in the way. In late 2014, they realized they “missed the magic” and began planning the return of No Secret. Dody sings and plays guitar, mandolin and melodica. She is loaded with talent and a favorite in Champaign-Urbana.

A lifelong resident of Champaign County, Michele Smith is an accomplished vocalist. She began her singing career with the Marvin Lee Band. She worked with Saxe Productions in Green Bay, Wisconsin singing jingles and appeared on national television for TNN’s “You Can Be a Star”. Smith has performed with Alison Krauss, opened for celebrity country singers Alan Jackson, Suzy Bogus, Charlie Daniels and Conway Twitty, and co-wrote and produced a contemporary Christian album with former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kent Bottenfield. Wow!! When asked about her most exciting vocal opportunity, Smith quickly responds “singing God Bless America for the ceremonial swearing in of new US Citizens at the Federal Courthouse.” That statement speaks volumes about this home town gal who continues singing locally for U of I sporting venues as well as fundraising and social events. She’s committed to community service giving her time over the years to organizations like Kiwanis, Carle Legacy, CASA, and FCA.

Tim Donaldson was just a kid with a background in gospel music when he left home at age 16 and started playing with local Top 40 and country bands.  He eventually joined a legendary Danville band, Freddie and the Freeloaders.  In the late 70's, the Danville-based Willard Cratchelow band hired him to replace a departing guitarist.  His virtuosity on guitar and vocals made him a popular addition to the band, which became a staple on the Central Illinois music scene for over 25 years.  Tim played with Willard Cratchelow (named for a Dickens character and called simply 'Willard' for several years) on and off during that time, and also played in The Edge and No Secret in the late 1980's.  In 2011, he formed the Timmy D and Blind Justice band, which featured his son Ben on drums.  In 2014, the No Secret band got back together and plays throughout the CU area. 

DJ Wang

DODY cosmedy , Michele Smith & TIM DONALDSON

Note Nerdy is the acapella ensemble for The High School of St. Thomas More. The group was established in 2013 and has received multiple awards and honors from ICHSA and other organizations. The group performs annually at the ICHSA acapella competition and performs occasionally at national festivals. Note Nerdy performed at Carnegie Hall in 2014 and is planning a trip to Nashville in 2018. Note Nerdy primarily focuses on popular music and was founded on the principles of Faith, Excellence, and Fraternity.

Members: Ethan Smith, Justin Smith, Adam Zasada, Jack Kramer, Kayley Schacht, Noelle Schacht, Regina Schmitt, Victoria Olsen, NaKaya Hughes, Marie Omanga, Lia Znaniecki, Chloe White, Coral Scaff, Bridget Clavey
Director: Stefanie Davis

Jeff Grider

Anthony Decerbo is originally from Champaign, and has performed spoken work and Hip Hop since 2000 in the Champaign Urbana area. He was the original drummer for the Kilborn Alley Blues Bank, contributing writing to their award-winning albums over the years. He looks to release his first solo album in 2016. His lyrics range from spiritual, sensual, family-friendly, and rugged battle rap for which the art is known. Cerbo has videos on YouTube, Expect to hear and seem more of him the coming years!

Sydney Olson, 13, is a seventh grader at Unity Junior High in Tolono. She sings and plays the ukulele, piano and guitar. In October 2016, she auditioned and was selected for the Illinois Music Educators Association District 3 choir which performed on November 19 in Bourbonnais.

Sydney is the soprano section leader for Unity’s 7th and 8th grade choir. She has also performed in the school’s show choir, Good & Brave Production’s annual madrigal (four years), Class Act’s Kids Cabaret and Fairytale Theater Camps, Art in Motion’s dance recitals, and Champaign’s Community United Church of Christ productions of “True Colors” and “A Pirate’s Tail.”

She has had four years of dance, voice and piano lessons plus several years of theater, dance, songwriting and vocal camps. In 2014, she placed third in the Champaign County Fair talent contest. She is thrilled to be a featured performer for this year’s Champaign West Rotary CU’s Got Talent fundraiser.

David (D.J.) Wang, a happy 7-year-old pianist, is a 2nd grader at Countryside School. He began playing piano at the age of 5 and had the honor of playing at Carnegie Hall twice in 2016 after winning 1st place in the American Fine Arts Festival piano competition and 2nd place in the American Protege International Piano & String competition. DJ also enjoys playing cello and is learning to play guitar from his dad. He has taken ballet lessons at Champaign Ballet Academy and performed in The Nutcracker in 2014 and 2015 as a polichinelle and a party boy. DJ likes to draw and has won various prizes in local art competitions. His favorite subjects are math, reading, and science. He loves swimming, biking and ice-skating. David is a big fan of Jesus and believes loving people the way he’s been loved. He wants to use all the talents he received to help people love God and love one another. 

Linsner & Burnside

Jonathan is a 26-year old father of three daughters who resides in Urbana, and he’s been playing music since he was 12. Jonathan says “Music is definitely a passion of mine. Every time I sing, I put everything I have into it -- my heart and my soul”. Jonathan comes from a long line of musicians. His father and his brothers as well as his grandfather and his brothers were all in touring bands. Jonathan grew up in Paxton. He moved to Urbana in 2009 with his older brother Jesse, his biggest musical inspiration, who died from suicide in 2011. Music is the one part of him that Jonathan holds so close. Jonathan describes himself as quirky and unique, which is sometimes mistaken for crazy, doesn’t spend a lot of time sticking within the social norm. The most important thing to know about Jonathan is that when he sings, you hear all of him – all of his joy, practice, heart and soul. He has a tremendous passion for music which is an important part of his life. Jonathan says, “I want to show my girls that you just have to make a goal and plan to succeed, and you can do whatever you choose in life. I hope one day through my example, they will follow through with their goals and become successful”.

Sydney Olson

Jim Mayer has appeared in numerous musical theater and light opera productions in the C-U area, spanning several decades. Recent roles include El Gallo in The Fantastiks (Summer, 2015 – Bah Humbug Productions at Parkland’s Second Stage), The Bishop in Les Miserables (Summer, 2014 – CU Theater Company) and Anatol in The Game of Love (Summer, 2013 – The Station Theater.) Additional roles/venues over the years have included:

  • CUTC/Virginia Theater: Harold Hill in The Music Man (2001 & 1992), Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun, Cinderella’s Prince/The Wolf in Into the Woods, Curly in Oklahoma!, Lancelot in Camelot, Richard Henry Lee in 1776, and General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance.
  • Sunshine Dinner Theater: Tommy in Brigadoon, Mervin Oglethorpe in Smoke on the Mountain
  • Monticello Theater Company/Camp Creek Playhouse: Michael in I Do, I Do, Jesus in Cotton Patch Gospel, and Matt in The Fantastiks.

By day, Jim is a Vocational Counselor with the Rural Champaign County Special Education Cooperative. As part of the human services community, Jim is very pleased to be a part of this event, supporting and acknowledging several of our excellent local human service providers. Last but not least…outside the theater, Jim’s very most favorite roles are as husband to Pat, and father to Anna and Gracie.

Jon Ray Parrish

Note Nerdy

Valerie Linsner began training at Champaign Ballet Academy under Deanna Doty and guest instructors in 2006.  Now a high school senior and a fifth-year company member with Champaign Urbana Ballet, Linsner has danced featured roles in CU Ballet's productions of The Nutcracker, Coppélia, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and selections from La Bayádere.  Linsner attended Ballet 5:8's Summer Intensive in 2013 and 2014 and Boston Ballet School's Summer Dance Program in 2015 and 2016. 

Kevin Burnside is among the first two Company dancers to be promoted to Soloist with Champaign Urbana Ballet. Burnside’s repertoire includes The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and selections from La Bayadère. He is an instructor at Champaign Ballet Academy, the official school of Champaign Urbana Ballet, and is co-owner of I-Power School of Gymnastics where he serves as head coach.

I'm thrilled to take part in CU's Got Talent 2017! A little bit about me. . .

I am a Personal Stylist for J. Hilburn Custom Men's Wear ( 
I have literally been around the world. 
I've won awards for my culinary prowess.
I have a doctorate from the U of Illinois. 
I was a singer aboard cruise ships. 
I have run 40+ half/full marathons. 
I worked on a cattle ranch. 
I know how to make 1000+ cocktails. 
I am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan.
I have a latent fear of going up stairs. 

Only one of these statements is false. Enjoy the show!

Involved in music most of his life, Bill ‘Griz’ Stevens grew up singing and performing in church and school choirs and bands and received his music education from SIU. Involved in blues and classic rock bands since high school, you may recognize ‘Griz’ from the Mighty Pranksters with whom he performed for 25 years. Retiring from farming, trucking and, most recently, the University of Illinois, you’ll find ‘Griz’ enjoying metal sculpture, outdoor activities and performing with the Shed Brothers trio. 

Becky Preston

FEBRUARY 4, 2017 | 5 - 9 PM


Becky has been involved in music and vocal talents since childhood. Her grandparents were both talented musicians, leading their church choir for over 50 years. She cultivated a love for piano and vocal performance and during high school was involved in school choir, swing choir, madrigals, and sang for weddings and special events. She was the IHSA Honors Choir Soloist in 1990, performing at the Peoria Civic Center. Becky attributes her achievements in voice performance to her beloved high school choir director, J. Mark Beaty. Her love of singing has stayed with her throughout her adult life, and she performs whenever she has the opportunity. 

Becky currently serves as Regional Sales Manager for Midland States Bank in Champaign. Her diverse background in banking began in Princeton, Illinois in 2003. She has experience in wealth management, commercial lending, small business and retail banking. Becky moved to the Champaign community in 2009 from Rockford to continue her banking career with Midland States Bank.

Becky currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Presence Covenant Foundation Board, Board Chair for Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, and a Board member for the Mahomet Seymour Schools Foundation. Becky also stays active volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, Mahomet Seymour Booster Club, and numerous other volunteer organizations. She resides in Mahomet with her husband, Sam. They are the parents of six children ranging from ages 28 to 16 and two loveable pups. 

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