When Mason Stewart and Jordan Lindsey stepped on the slick stage, colored lights flooding their surroundings, audience members screaming, cameras focused on their every movement—it took their breath away. It was exactly where they wanted to be, and the experience was life- changing.
Lindsey and Stewart weren’t at the Carson Center or the Paducah Tilghman auditorium, though they had previously performed at both places; they were thousands of miles away on the stage of the hit NBC show The Sing-Off. And unless you’ve never heard of Facebook, you probably know what happened by now. What you may not know is how if felt.
“For me it was surreal,” Lindsey said. “When we decided to audition, we didn’t have any expectation of making it.” But “make it” they did . . . right onto the stage of Universal Studios in Burbank, CA and into the hearts of millions of television viewers.
They sported pink shoes, bow ties, and UK blue, all the while emanating that Kentucky vibe so many love around these parts. The AcoUstiKats, a student a cappella group at the University of Kentucky, sang and danced their way into the national limelight this holiday season for an experience that these two Paducah boys will NEVER forget.
The group was among 10 selected to compete on the reality show now in its fourth season. Lindsey and Stewart are among 12 men who make up the famed AcoUstiKats.
Lindsey isn’t just a member – he’s the student coach of the group.
“I wouldn’t be here and there’s a chance the AcoUstiKats wouldn’t be where they are today without three things I had growing up,” Lindsey said. “I attribute my musical success to the talent I was born with, my family, and my teachers. Tilghman played a huge role in that.”
Stewart also pointed to Paducah and the musical environment the city nurses so incredibly well. “We have so much going for us in Paducah. With opportunities at the Market House Theater, and exposure to acts at the Carson Center, the atmosphere among the creative people in our town are more than we could possibly ask for!
“If I hadn’t been raised in Paducah, maybe this opportunity to learn from others wouldn’t have presented itself,” Stewart said.
Lindsey is still a student at UK, but Stewart earned his degree before the show was filmed in the summer of 2013. Even though their experience with the AcoUstiKats will be coming to an end soon, the men from The Sing-Off will continue to showcase their talent in other ways.
The current AcoUstiKats are setting up a tour while also helping the incoming guys learn the ropes at the university.
“When you spend eight weeks with 12 guys, you grow on levels you never thought you would,” Stewart said. “We tell people we’re so close, we’re like a fraternity.”
But sharing the stage on one of television’s top competitive musical shows will linger long after fraternity parties are a thing of the past. These songs and these moments will be part of a score that will play on in the hearts and minds of these two young Paducah men like an encore that never ends.