Sunday, September 28, 2014

REVIEW: The Texas Tenors open TEXAS A&M’S MSC OPAS Season 42

The Three Tenors were absolutely the perfect choice to celebrate over 40 consecutive years of music programming in the Memorial Student Center Opera and Performing Arts Society (MSC OPAS) at Texas A&M. The evening of Sept. 26, 2014, marked the start for Season 42, whose programming theme is titled, “Good Times.” When John Hagen, Marcus Collins and JC Fisher entered to open the Ann Wiatt Main Stage Series, following a lovely off-stage vocal blend for the national anthem, the audience was already on their feet. But the talented trio earned several ovations throughout the evening, from a diverse and appreciative gathering of arts patrons.

From “America’s Got Talent” to College Station has been a tremendous journey of joy for these singers who call Texas their home base. The trio has traveled the world on cruise ships, played Branson’s Starlite Theatre for five years, and they have their own PBS special, “You Should Dream,” which is earning them even greater national acclaim. What’s more they came to the Brazos Valley to open “Good Times.” The evening’s performance was sponsored by Aggieland Credit Union.

It must be said that trying to pick the shows for any season of music, stage, orchestra, and entertainment presentation to please “everyone” is next to impossible. But that’s never bothered OPAS Executive Director Anne T. Black, as she and her OPAS Board of Directors travel to New York, and they bring home a group of shows that are available to travel to College Station in between their national tour appearances in cities that are, still, ten times larger than Bryan-College Station. To bring The Texas Tenors to an opening Friday night was as much of a coup as simply booking them.

These handsome, charming, and ultra-talented tenors were superbly accompanied by a four piece band known as “The 3 Bottle Band,” who travels with them. The Texas Tenors performs at least five weeks each year in Branson, Missouri. The talented backing musicians also had a home base in Branson, as key players behind Bill and McKenna Medley’s show as well as the late, great Andy Williams. The Three Tenors may have first knocked the socks off of Sharon Osborne, Piers Morgan, and David Hasselhoff (the Hoff!) in 2009 during the “America’s Got Talent” competition, but in the past five years, the trio’s popularity has grown exponentially.

As soon as John, Marcus and JC hit the stage, they owned it instantly, kicking off their show with their version of Alabama’s “Mountain Music.” It’s no secret that Aggies love good country-western music and they needed no encouragement to begin clapping along. In black cowboy hats and country-cut tailoring, they burst into “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Take Me Home Country Roads.” The trio invited the audience to sing along, but the crowd had already started before being asked.

In between the songs, the conversation and personality that each tenor shared gave the audience a good opportunity to get that “I’ve known you forever” feeling that carries over beyond the span of the concert. Each of the three best friends came together as they were guys with day jobs that were going nowhere quickly; in fact, one had lost his job. Undergirded with a shared faith in God, gospel music is one of their strongest genres, as they sang convincingly as well as beautifully. Each of course had spent a substantial amount of time singing in church settings for most all of their respective lives.

There was a definite spiritual feel to their rendition of “Danny Boy” and “Amazing Grace,” incorporating Dottie Rambo’s beautiful lyrics. In the beautiful backlighting across the stage, as they were singing their songs, I couldn’t help but be emotionally moved, to tears in fact, to think of all of the patrons, and patrons-now-saints, who have worked for over four decades to bring this series to what it is today.

Looking upward into the gentle lighting, the names and faces came to mind of Wayne Stark, Thyra Plass, Pat Peters, now gone, and so many others in the community today, to whom substantive thanks are due. Their gifts of time and finances made this a viable programming series for the Brazos Valley to experience things that previously had only been possible when you loaded up the station wagon and headed for Houston, back in the day.

As The Three Tenors began singing the lyrics to “It’s the Climb” the music swelled along perfectly but then it was time to re-involve the audience. Aggieland’s Mark and Laura Johnson were the tenors’ first audience members to visit. They ultimately whisked Laura onstage and all three of them sang to her and even posed nicely for photos, asking audience members to share them on their Facebook page.

An exceptionally poignant highlight was the tenors singing “God Bless the USA,” and the singers asked all veterans to stand and be recognized, followed by those who had spouses and children who served. This recognition of veterans may occur at every concert, but the crowd in Rudder was truly able to see just how many veterans call Brazos Valley and Texas A&M home.

Although there are three tenors, they’re distinct in their own way. Marcus is considered the “Contemporary Tenor,” JC is considered the “Romantic Tenor,” and John says he’s “The Tenor.” John made his Lincoln Center debut in Mascagni’s “Guglielmo Ratcliff” and he is a veteran and lover of all things opera. The Three Tenors did a pleasant version of “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, and that scene from “Moonstruck” just kept popping up in my mind as they sang it. Luciano Pavarotti was acknowledged and remembered fondly in a special tribute during the evening.

In a special salute to their first trip to Aggieland, they showed an all-Aggie montage of campus and traditions as the trio sang “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and the audience was ready to clap along without being invited.

Refusing to be boxed in to typecasting, they then surprised the audience in appealing to some of the younger patrons by performing Coldplay’s “If I Ruled the World,” which was extremely well received. Then two tenors left the stage under a cute ruse and left Marcus to come down and greet audience members on the stage left side. There, Marcus spotted a lady named Kat, wearing a neck brace, and he was so amazed to learn that she’d suffered a broken neck but managed to come to see their concert. Noting her far-right audience seat, he asked the “folks down front in the middle” to find Kat an open seat, so she would not have to strain her neck the rest of the show, and the audience happily obliged. Then he sang one of his favorite songs, “God Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts to Kat, asking the audience to make certain they helped her out of the row at the end of the show.

The 3 Bottle Band then entertained the audience with a bluegrass tune while the tenors changed again. The Texas Tenors returned to the stage to offer two powerful crowd pleasers, “Music of the Night” and “Somewhere” from “Phantom of the Opera.”

A highlight of the evening was the performance of Dana Lamb’s song, “You Should Dream.” Lamb is a music educator at Cleveland Elementary in Fayetteville, Georgia. The Three Tenors were especially touched because each of them has parent educators, and teaching children to dream is important to all concerned. They shared that Lamb was so inspired to write the song, which just flowed into her mind; she grabbed the first writing instrument she could reach, a purple marker, and began writing. When she stopped, it was the song that would become the title of The Three Tenors’ latest album and PBS Special.

During the evening, patrons learned about the trio’s alliance with the nonprofit Child Fund International, and they had brochures on the merchandise for patrons to see. They chose an appropriate song to close out the evening as they’d each interacted with the audience and shared the highlight video of their career path from rehearsal and arrangements to the showcase of “America’s Got Talent.” Even if all you knew before the concert was the 30-second television commercial and their powerful harmony, thanks to their extensive abilities to engage with the audience, honed from years in Branson and by evening’s end you felt like they were three friends you’d known for years.

There are so many people to thank for the season, each of the sponsors, names you have known forever, and those who are newer to you. It takes almost an hour to read and think of the generosity of each name in all giving areas where OPAS and the community benefits, but it’s well worth your time. Every name, every donor in the OPAS program is key, vital in fact, as it who it takes to bring productions to campus for all to enjoy. No, it’s not always an affordable ticket price, but compared to taking the family to an Aggie football game in Jerry World, it’s a sheer bargain. Reasonable student ticket prices are made available for those who love the arts, sometimes even in a 2-for-1 option.

What was additionally impressive was the number of Aggie students who lined the rows of all three sections of Rudder Theatre, working hard to greet and seat patrons. Every year this core group of students accomplishes tremendous work before, during and after the performances to make the season a success.

Next up is an OPAS Movie Night, set for Friday, Oct. 3, at sunset in Sale Park in downtown Bryan. The event is a free screening for “Guys and Dolls,” and the public is invited to bring their lawn chairs, blankets and picnic suppers, as the gentle fall weather should hold nicely for the evening.

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, American Idol winner Phillip Phillips will perform at Rudder Auditorium for an OPAS special event. Tickets go on sale to the general public Sept. 30, as the students of Texas A&M and TEAM Blinn have had one week’s advance opportunity to get their tickets.

To learn more about OPAS and the rest of Season 42, visit them on the web at Get in on those good times today!

Originally published on on September 28, 2014. Photo credit: The Texas Tenors, used with permission.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mark Dawson and the Kings of Snack’s ‘One Saturday Night’ is refreshing

You already know Mark Dawson as the lead singer (since 2011) for The Grass Roots. Dawson has been performing with them full time since 2008, having been selected by Rob Grill to handle the major vocal duties as he battled health issues during his final performing years. But Mark is also a singer-songwriter in his own right, and plays regularly with many bands he helped co-establish, including Simulcast, particularly focusing on the Florida performing area. The Chicago native also sings with vocalist Gladys Justiniano, and these are two of the six members of the newest, hippest band to form, Mark Dawson & the Kings of Snack. You can hear Mark Dawson each Thursday Night on Our Generation Radio with his own 2-hour funky, creative, sometimes off the wall radio shows, complete with stories from the road. Mark Dawson and Grass Roots' guitarist Dusty Hanvey will be on the 2015 Happy Together Tour, which will make all the Grass Roots fans happy to hear their songs. Here's the link to the full CD Review for the inaugural release by Mark Dawson & the Kings of Snack, called "One Saturday Night."

Here they are: Mark Dawson & the Kings of Snack. Check them out. You'll be glad you did. No Grass Roots fan should be without this CD--their version of "Temptation Eyes" is worth owning for that song alone.

To order the CD, click here.

Sasha Alexander lands guest-starring role on ‘Shameless’

You have to give credit to actress Sasha Alexander. She's smart enough to not be typecast in some role for longer than a year or two. TV fans may have first come to know her from Dawson's Creek, and surely from "NCIS" as Special Agent Caitlyn Todd, a former U.S. Secret Service agent on Presidential Detail. Then she's a natural as child genius turned Boston Medical Examiner, Dr. Maura Isles on the TNT Drama, "Rizzoli & Isles." Now she'll have a six-episode story arc on Showtime's "Shameless." Personally speaking, she'd do better to guest on "Mom" for CBS but perhaps TNT contracts prohibit her from going back to the big-3 while the run is running? "Rizzoli & Isles" is on its mid-summer to mid-fall break right now and will be back in the season TNT calls "Winter." Meanwhile, I'll miss "Shameless" but be glad for the actress who's acting. That's Hollywood for gotta do what they say you gotta do, if you want to keep on working.
Sasha Alexander and her husband, director Edoardo Ponti, Getty Images, used with permission for

Image courtesy of TNT Drama.

Still, TNT Drama is offering quality programming alternatives to a lot of the yada yada boring programming on the Big-3.

Full story: Click here.

Texan Matthew McConaughey, Ellen DeGeneres, Lincoln MKZ and Cyrus the bull

So you're watching TV and you see this guy who looks familiar, driving in a car by himself, late at night on what is likely IH-35 in Austin....and you recognize the movie star, still looking rather gaunt from his "Dallas Buyers Club" box office smash. Then you ask yourself....why is it again that "The Lincoln Lawyer" is selling cars? Oh wait, Lincoln, Lawyer, someone over at Ford Motor Company's Lincoln Division saw the perfect product placement, eh? Texas men are fearless, generally, and undoubtedly there’s definitely a stereotype of many a southern gentleman as the “strong, silent type,” and so it is that Lincoln Motor Company chose Matthew McConaughey, a native son to market their 2015 Lincoln MKZ. So far there are a series of spots with the award-winning actor, his Lincoln, and you—the audience—engaged, but there’s another version of the commercial that’s doing even better—one posted on Sept. 23, 2014 by television star Ellen DeGeneres, who cyberjoins “Mumblin’ Matthew.” If you haven’t seen it, check it out in the accompanying video link. Full story, click here .
"All right, all right, all right, let's drive a Lincoln, man. It's all good." (Photo from

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Did Flo & Eddie beat SiriusXM or will they force classic rock off car radios?

Flo & Eddie, who by lawsuits long ago and far away, are advertised on tour today as “The Turtles Featuring Flo & Eddie” (exact wording from their official web site) harken back to other legal issues that they resolved ultimately in their favor, after being taken advantage of by several of their managers in days of old (watch the YouTube and see "what happened" back in the day). Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, adopted the “Flo & Eddie” identities as shortened monikers, short for a 1972 album “The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie,” released by the duo, who also sang with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, as well as also singing prolifically in studio sessions for other rock artists.
Now there are times when you can't take these guys seriously but they are Sirius about their complaints against not being properly compensated, hence the law suit. Questions remain, however, as to who wins and who loses based on this one suit in California. Other states to be sued, other artists to do the suing, theoretically. ALl SiriusXM has to do is pull the plug on their best 60s on 6 and 70s on 7 channels and watch how quickly the music, and interest in classic rock, fades away. The 60s on 6 station is one of the few remaining stations in America to play classic rock without changing the format every 10 minutes, the way so many of the larger, corporate "terrestrial" radio stations do. Plus, there are no commercials, which enhances the listening experience. So what, again, is considered a 'win'? Full story and details on the suit, click here

Singer Phillip Phillips Brings National Tour to College Station, Texas

Phillip Phillips, An American Idol winner, is coming to Aggieland, Oct. 8, 2014, Rudder Auditorium, performing hit songs from latest album, "Behind the Light"--students have first-option on tickets, beginning today--links to $15 great tickets inside story. Click HERE to read.
Some of Phillip Phillips' hits:
"Gone Gone Gone"
"Raging Fire"
"Alive Again"
"Midnight Sun" Order the album today:

Tickets on sale Sept. 23, 2014 for Texas Aggie and Blinn TEAM students;
Rudder Auditorium, Texas A&M campus, Oct. 8, 2014, 8 p.m.
General public can purchase tickets (only $15!!) one week from today.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chicago's Own Band, The Ides of March, to Celebrate 50th Anniversary in Style

S O L D - O U T  N I G H T !! This event is sold out!
On Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, Chicago music history will be made as The Ides of March will be celebrating 50 years in performing. The Boys from Berwyn will be celebrating at the McAninch Arts Center on the campus of the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The evening's hosts are the great Bob Sirott and the legendary Dick Biondi, two voices of entertainment who everyone regards so highly. Special guests who will be there as the Cornerstones of Chicago Rock
Jim Peterik - The Ides of March
Tom Doody - The Cryan' Shames
Carl Giammarese - The Buckinghams
Jimy Sohns - The Shadows of Night
Ronnie Rice - The New Colony Six

                                                                     The Ides of March.

Great poster for this 50th Anniversary Show for The Ides of March

Ides of March!

                                                These are definitely X-treme Ides Fans.

The Boys from Berwyn always draw a crowd!

More Ides of March!

It's great when you get your own...way. The Ides of March Way, that is.

Click to read the full story on AXS Entertainment web site here:

Leonard Cohen’s 80th Birthday Celebration is Cause for National Tributes

Perhaps no singer-songwriter has had more of an impact—of some kind—on his contemporaries, and those who came a decade or two later, than Leonard Cohen. Cohen, who turns 80 years old on Sun., Sept. 21, 2014, is being given a celebration or two (or many) in his honor across the United States simply for remaining an inspiration. 

Read the full story here.

Order Leonard Cohen's new album/CD/mp3 "Popular Problems," from
Official Release Date: Sept. 23, 2014.

All photos from web site 

Artwork for new Leonard Cohen's new album, released in conjunction with his 80th birthday.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nikki Pederson propels children to national visibility in movies and television

It was during the premiere of CBS’ inaugural broadcast of “Thursday Night Football,” on Sept. 11, 2014, that a handsome young man stood, adding raw vegetables into a home blender, waiting and waiting for a few ounces to emerge. Looking at the national TV commercial spot for V-8 Juice, anyone from Bryan-College Station had to be screaming out loud, “That’s Michael Lane, our Michael Lane!” As Variety reported, CBS and the NFL Network “combined to draw 20.8 million viewers.”

Last year, Lane was featured in a national commercial for Kay Jewelers, and he also managed to propose to his future wife, Caritia. When Michael and Caritia married last night in Huntington Beach, CA, Nikki Pederson was there celebrating with the happy couple, as she had been instrumental in Michael’s training and acting career in California. It was as if Michael’s baton had been passed to her by MA Sterling, artistic director of Brazos Valley TROUPE, to have Nikki take Michael to that all-too-famous but very hard to reach, “next level.”

Last week the Wareing family, formerly of College Station, were in Toronto, Canada, for TIFF 2014, the annual opening event where Garrett Wareing is featured in his first film, “Boychoir,” directed by Francois Girard. The film focuses on Garrett as “Stet,” an 11-year-old child who is angry at the world after his single mom dies. The reviews for the film have been nothing but sterling.[Editor's note: Eventually this film was purchased by Hallmark for broadcast on their TV network but has not aired as of 2017.] This exceptionally talented, charming and brilliant young man credits Nikki in his IMDB biography in a manner that demands a direct quote:

After a meeting with famed talent scout Nikki Pederson of Nikki Pederson Talent, Garrett accepted an offer to enroll in IMTA 2013 where he earned numerous awards, including 2013 Pre-Teen Male Model of the Year, as well as garnering the attention of a significant number of agents in Hollywood. Nikki has been instrumental in the guidance of Garrett's career and has made a profound impact on his life.

Garrett is the central character to the film starring (both) Oscar and Emmy winners Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates. This is the same Dustin Hoffman who was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2012 and has Oscars for “Rain Man” and “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Of course, Kathy just picked up another) Emmy a few weeks ago for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie and her Oscar was for “Misery.”

Everyone remembers Bates’s most fun role in “Primary Colors,” for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award. And any Baby Boomer worth his or her salt knows Dustin Hoffman’s breakout role in “The Graduate” (Plastics, my boy, plastics!”). Also in the film of which Garrett is a vital part is Josh Lucas, whose movies include “A Beautiful Mind,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “The Lincoln Lawyer,” to name a few.

And these brilliant and talented people are there in the “ultimate classroom.” Also in this film are Kevin McHale, Eddie Izzard, and River Alexander. Garrett was chosen for his role out of thousands considered. Thousands. From College Station to Hollywood in less than two years, thanks to Nikki Pederson and her ability to spot talent, train talent, and then make sure they find the very best, most highly reputable management.

In a related story, the wonderful relationship between Nikki Pederson and the entire Wareing family (parents Rooter and Ginny, and their children, Garrett, Mackenzie, and Mason) is detailed. What’s relevant is that three members of the Wareing family were selected for “Boy Choir,” as Garrett’s beautiful and talented actress sister, Mackenzie, plays Stephanie On Sat., Sept. 13, flipping over to the Disney Channel to catch another episode of “Austin & Ally,” you’re watching Raini Rodriguez, costarring as Trish De la Rosa, and you have a “V-8” moment.

That’s another Nikki Pederson Talent Alum! When Nikki took Raini out to Hollywood to compete in the IMTA national acting competition, the adorable young lady blossoming in talent impressed talent manager Susan Osser, who signed Raini and has done a superb job in booking her for movies. It started with “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” with Kevin James; Disney’s “Prom” and now Raini is filming the “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” sequel. That’s Nikki Pederson’s alumnus.

Just two days earlier, while watching a MOFY Marathon on USA Network, you’d have seen Bryan’s Rico Rodriguez, who plays Manny Delgado, son to supermodel/actress Sofia Vergara and distinguished actor Ed O’Neill’s Jay Pritchett. Just last month Rico was on hand for his fifth Emmy Awards ceremony where he was part of the ensemble stagebound to receive their fifth Emmy for “Best Comedy Series.”

Rico, in addition to being Raini’s younger brother, owes his opportunity to what happened when Raini and her whole family went into Osser’s office for a meeting, but it all started with Nikki. One of his first television roles was on NCIS, in the season 6, episode 19, “Hide and Seek” playing Travis Buckley. Rico was 10 years old at the time, and NCIS was then as it is now, television’s Number One Scripted Drama. Two young children in the same family, making their way in Hollywood, part one. Another favorite episode of “NCIS” is from season 8, titled “Freedom,” where the corpse of a U.S. Marine reservist is discovered in his backyard by dogwalkers, and one look at the opening sequence and you yell out, “That’s Matthew Florida!” as you see his character, Kyle Severin, onscreen. “He is one of Nikki’s kids,” you think. Florida also played Ford Decker on “Days of Our Lives,” he’s the voice of Arrow in Tom Clancy’s “HAWX 2” video game and he’s currently voicing “Raif” in the animation comedy “Oishi High School Battle” and has an increasingly strong resume, with lots more to come.

Disney star Tiffany Thornton is another Nikki Pederson talent alumnus and she recently came to Nikki’s new acting studio in downtown Bryan to inspire and talk with her current students about the process and the training of what it takes to make it to Hollywood. Recent Texas Aggie graduate (and newlywed) Michael Green got his SAG card as he was booked for a national television commercial for K-Mart, directed by Spike Lee. Three guesses where Green found his training? That’s right.

Many students also benefit from the outstanding California-based training from another of Nikki’s trusted colleagues, Patrick Baca. Nikki insists on bringing in only the most outstanding, trustworthy team members to work with her young trainees.

So, with that predicate, who exactly is this woman who has made all these dreams come true for young people from Bryan-College Station happen? She’s Nikki Pederson of Nikki Pederson Talent, and she’s a businesswoman who is committed to children reaching their goals, if they have the skills, talent and qualifications to make it, and if they are willing to do the work to get there.

When you first meet the College Station native Nikki Pederson, you are taken aback somewhat at the aura of a woman that simply glows when she speaks of “her children.” For the past 15 years, Nikki has parlayed an innate ability to coach, train, demand and expect young aspiring actors, models, and singers into a bevy of results.

She is not, let it be understood, a person who will accept any child for a fee, who trains the wannabe’s and the never-gonna-make-it’s brought to her by anxious stage parents who think their child is “gonna be a star.” She will not shine you on, because she won’t take you unless you have what it takes, but she can deliver the message gently with kid gloves.

One personal story from Nikki’s childhood is sufficient to tell you where, how and why she does what she does, in 70-hour weeks where shadowing her for even a day is exhausting. When Nikki was a young girl growing up in College Station, her dream was to be in front of audiences, doing something that would bring them joy in entertainment. Blessed with model-like good looks at an early age, Nikki lacked only the confidence to shoot for the stars. Her father, Russ Coleman, was an accomplished singer and had entertained audiences, but singing was not what Nikki wanted to do.

When Nikki shared her dreams, in a quiet voice, with her mother, she didn’t get the encouraging answer she was seeking. Instead she got a variation on the “cold, cruel world” speech of walking uphill to school in the snow, both ways, hard-knocks life of Hollywood and was essentially encouraged to get that notion out of her head, promptly. Young Nikki was crushed. As she grew up and finished high school the young beauty had a bevy of friends, was pursued by the neatest guys in class for dates, and yet, her secret dream didn’t die. It just stayed buried deep inside her, but life and circumstances combined to bring that dream back into the forefront of her mind.

Nikki began working with IMTA, the International Modeling and Talent Association, and she would take on young students in her Woodlands, Texas studio and train them in sessions such as “Kids on Camera,” where budding actors had actual on-camera experience and the chance to rehearse, train and review their progress.

Through the years of “paying her dues,” Nikki had a chance to see the best and the worst in talent scouts, modeling executives, agents and artist representatives. In that time Nikki was encouraged to branch out on her own, but she didn’t quite feel ready to take the plunge and be her own talent scout and skip the middle part of IMTA, a group for which she still maintains the highest regard today. It was through IMTA that she met and was mentored by Al Onorato, a man of whom she states, “has the highest integrity” of anyone she’s ever met, noting “I’ve been blessed by our friendship and I cherish the opportunities I have to talk to him about everything.”

Pederson’s model training included head shots with professional photographers of top Hollywood studio pedigree and her public speaking programs gave her pupils excellent exit skills, if their goals were only to be able to speak confidently in public. Students (like Garrett, Mackenzie and Mason Wareing, to name three) would commute from College Station to the Woodlands to study with Nikki and her team.

As she’d spend substantial time away from her home in the Woodlands to work with students in Bryan-College Station from time to time, Nikki built a family of believers in a dynamic group of local women known in the community for their good works simply as “The Princesses.” The queen, of course, is Cherry Ruffino, an effervescent do-gooder and real estate mastermind. Then you have academic dean and singing sensation, Karan Chavis, who spends her barely existent spare time working with Nikki’s students who want to sing as part of their full-talent package. [Editor's note: One of Karan's students was Courtnie Ramirez, who would become a finalist in the 2016 season of NBC's "The Voice," yet another example of how Nikki Pederson and Karan Chavis know talent and help foster it whenever they can.]

Mary Mike Hatcher, hometown beauty and longtime radio talent cum national sales manager for Bryan Broadcasting, is another of the shining stars in the group, and often the chief ringleader for all kinds of fun as the ladies frequent local charity functions en masse and collectively support so many good causes that they comprise a “special interest group” of their own accord. The lovely and charming Sharon Merrill completes the royal entourage and keeps them flowing on a smooth course. Someone has to!

These five women together have believed in one another, from the day they each met. They’ve had each other’s backs if one finds a setback in their paths, and when you just can’t find one good thing about your day, a princess will step in and fix that for you. And when life was at an important crossroads for Nikki, you know now who to thank for seeing that she not only reached her own dreams of starting her own talent agency but who were the first in line to congratulate her. An important quote comes to mind:

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you, no matter what.”

Ultimately, late last year with the gentle encouragement (or all-out strategic movement) of “The Princesses,” Nikki relocated her headquarters to the Bryan-College Station area of Texas, where she’s established a tremendous and beautiful studio in the heart of historic downtown Bryan.

And with that as a predicate, Nikki Pederson today is still in the background of the world behind the scenes, making big things happen. It’s never about Nikki. It’s always about “her kids.” God did not bless her with one or two children. Instead, she says, “He made my dreams come true by allowing me to be a part of the lives of these very special young people who are following their dreams. If I can just make a contribution to them by believing in them and working for them, that’s why I’m here.”

So don’t look for Nikki on her own IMDB page. Instead, you can find her on Facebook for yourself and see many of her alumni and current students there. And when you see them on a giant IMAX screen, in a Broadway play or on your television each week, she is there. Her children rush to thank her for believing in them, for “being there” for her, and in being an integral part of her family, as all of the parents adopt her as part of their extended family. And to think it all started because one talented, beautiful little girl had to reach deep down inside herself, with faith, and do what everyone else said wasn’t going to happen. Robin Williams said it best, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” They do, every day, in Bryan-College Station, Texas, thanks to Nikki Pederson.