Marathon Center for the Performing Arts (MCPA) in collaboration with United Way of Hancock County (UWHC) invites vocalists and bands from the 419-area code to submit a short sample of their music for a chance to participate in the 419 Sings virtual talent competition sponsored by First National Bank.

Sixteen finalists will be selected to compete against each other through a virtual platform over a five-week period beginning in September for the chance to win: $2,500, a recording studio session with Stone Soup Recording Studio in Maumee, OH and their own live performance at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts.

“MCPA actively seeks out new talent and we look forward to shining a light on our regional musicians, both known and yet-to-be-discovered,” says Heather Clow, executive director of the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts.

“The pandemic hit us all hard last year, especially human services and the arts. Both are equally vital to build a thriving community,” said Angela DeBoskey, CEO of United Way, “This project allows us to work together to improve our community and reminds us that together we are stronger.”

The top 30 performances will be selected by a panel organized by MCPA, United Way and First National Bank the week of August 16. Those performances will then be reviewed by a distinguished panel of industry-connected judges who will select the 16 participants for the 419 Sings competition.

Judges reviewing the top 30 submissions are: John “Scott” Lavender, professional musician, and music educator with over 40 years in the industry and 30 years as musical director for musicians such as

Johnny Mathis, Toni Tennille and Glen Yarbrough; Donna S. Collins, Ohio Arts Council Executive Director and board member of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies; Michael Cavanaugh, musician and Broadway performer hand-picked by Billy Joel to star in the musical Movin’ Out; Sam Bartlett, talent agent with ICM Partners, New York, NY; Marielle Kraft, Nashville singer, songwriter and winner of the 2018 Mid Atlantic Songwriting Competition.

The five-week competition begins Wednesday, Sept. 15, during a Facebook live event, when the 16 finalists and their submissions are revealed, and the public is invited to view and vote for their favorite performance on the United Way website.

One dollar equals one vote, and the public may vote as many times as they want. The following Wednesday, the eight receiving the most votes will continue to the next round and the cycle will repeat until the winner is selected on Wednesday, October 13.

  • Must be from the 419 area code
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Name/Short Bio
  • Submission song: File Format to use – MOV or MP4 or Direct Link to Video Streaming Platform like Vimeo, YouTube etc.
  • 60 - 90 seconds of your best material – showcasing your range/talent
  • NO studio mixed or lip-synced videos,** authentic voice preferred.

If selected, you must share 419 Sings materials/flyers etc. to:

  • Artist Pages
  • Social Media Pages
  • Website
  • List of engagements (if applicable)

Should you be selected as one of the 16 contestants, you will be required to submit a recorded video weekly beginning September 15 through October 11 unless you are not selected for the next round or until the determination of the winner is made.

John Scott Lavender

JOHN "SCOTT" LAVENDER, Musician - Findlay, OH

Boasting a professional career of over 40 years, John “Scott” Lavender is an entrepreneur in the music industry playing, conducting, teaching, managing, arranging and writing for a wide variety of performing soloists, groups and institutions.

Whether collaborating or performing his own unique arrangements on stage, Lavender is a regularly welcomed guest with orchestras around the globe. But perhaps is most well-known for his 30-year ongoing musical direction of world celebrity, Johnny Mathis who turns 86 this year. He has also spent time working with singers Glenn Yarbough, Toni Tennille and Michael Feinstein.  

More recently, Lavender has been working as an adjunct associate professor at BGSU, a conductor for the Ohio Northern University Symphony Orchestra, a Tiffin University artist in residence, and an adjunct professor of music at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California. He also volunteers his time and talent on local committees, music events and enjoys working with ensembles at Findlay High School.

Donna S. Collins

DONNA S. COLLINS, Executive Director, Ohio Arts Council - Columbus, OH

Donna Collins serves as the executive director of the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Collins brings more than 30 years of experience in leading a state agency and statewide non-profit organizations, demonstrating consistent success and solid results that impact policy, education, economic development, and arts and culture.

At the state level Collins is a founding member of the Ohio Prison Arts Connection, a Fellow with the Ohio Art Education Association, and served as the Leader in Residence at Marietta College. In 2015 John R. Kasich, Governor of the State of Ohio, inducted Collins into the Association of Ohio Commodores whose mission is to assist the State of Ohio in its advancement in all areas contributing to the economic growth and development of the State, and the greater prosperity of its citizens. At the national level Collins is an elected Board member of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) and a member of the ArtPlace America Central Appalachian Network Assembly.

Michael Cavanaugh

MICHAEL CAVANAUGH, Musician/Performer - Las Vegas, NV

Michael Cavanaugh is the new voice of the American Rock & Roll Songbook and a charismatic performer and musician made famous for his piano/lead vocals in the Broadway musical Movin’ Out. Handpicked by Billy Joel to star in the show, Cavanaugh evokes a style rivaling the Piano Man. He appeared in the show for three years with over 1,200 performances and received multiple accolades.

With the close of Movin’ Out at the end of 2005, Michael began touring in his own right, creating a show that reinterprets the modern pop/rock songbook. Michael soon became one of the hottest artists in the private events market, and he continues to perform worldwide for company and charity events as well as sporting events including many PGA tour events, the SuperBowl, and the Indy 500.  His interpretation of the modern rock/pop songbook led to Billboard calling him “The New Voice of the American Rock and Roll Songbook,” and he was recognized by Reuters as Entertainer of the Year for the private events market. In 2020, Michael Cavanaugh reached the POLLSTAR Live75, a list of the top 75 active touring acts in the country.

Marielle Kraft

MARIELLE KRAFT, Singer/Songwriter - Nashville, TN

Marielle Kraft is a Nashville based pop singer/songwriter. Known best for her poignant and relatable lyricism, she has toured venues across the eastern U.S. for the last 2 years, sharing stages with established names like Ava Max, Jon McLaughlin, and Betty Who. The former middle school teacher gave a Tedx Talk at Firefly Music Festival to share about her songwriting process, and won the 2018 Mid Atlantic Songwriting Competition.

In 2021 alone, Marielle Kraft has seen over 1 million views on Tiktok, spurring her back-to-back single releases of "Everyone But Me" and "We Were Never Friends" - clear steps forward in her pop writing and production. With more on the way in 2021, Marielle Kraft has promise to follow suit to artists like JP Saxe and Maggie Rogers as the young songwriter makes a growing impact in the indie pop scene. 

Sam Bartlett

SAM BARTLETT, Agent, ICM Partners - New York, NY

Sam Bartlett is an agent at ICM Partners (New York, NY) and handles live concert bookings for ICM’s Adult Contemporary and Comedy rosters in clubs, theaters, and amphitheaters. A native of Scottsdale, AZ, Bartlett graduated from SMU (Dallas, TX) in 2013 with dual degrees in Business Management and Piano/Organ Performance. When he is not booking or attending shows, he is the Assistant Organist at Church of the Heavenly Rest in NYC.

Grand Prize Winner receives:

  • $2,500 CASH
  • Submission reviewed by our distinguished panel of expert judges
  • A recording session with a professional engineer at Stone Soup Recording Studios
  • Headline performance held at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts

concert crowd


first national bank       marathon petroleum corporation

uwhc & mcpa logos

visit findlay


The winner of each cycle is based on the number of votes in the United Way virtual singing competition. 

Funds raised will support MCPA's mission to enrich lives through the arts, culture and entertainment and

UWHC's ongoing mission to measurably improve people's lives in Hancock County

100% of proceeds raised during voting go straight to the Northwest Ohio community!