Kansas City’s own father-daughter singing duo, Maurice and Shanice Hayes, are competing in NBC’s national talent competition, America’s Got Talent, for a $1 million prize.
Before hitting prime time, Maurice and Shanice were popular street performers on the County Club Plaza.
KC Currents profiled the two of them about year ago. Now, they are holding their own on the national stage and so far crowd reaction and judge’s comments have been very positive. KCUR’s Susan Wilson sat down with them to see how all this national attention has been affecting their lives.
SHANICE: Well I’ve never been interested in joining any shows because I never was a talent show person. But my dad, he just told me that we should just go ahead and go, so that’s it, I just went with my dad.
SUSAN: Well you know they’ve said that you’re a superstar. And so do you see yourself in the future reaching that superstar status?
SHANICE: I can see myself, and I want to be. Not more of a superstar but more of an artist. I want to be an artist, and I want to be able to give back and help. And that’s what I really want to do, not more of just a superstar, cameras and everything. I just want to be an artist and I want to sing.
SUSAN: But how has being on TV changed your thinking about your future plans?
SHANICE: My future plans still remain the same. I’m still going to college; I just enrolled into Penn Valley. I’m always going to work on my music. So everything is still the same for me.
SUSAN: So what are you going to study in college?
SHANICE: I’m thinking about going into music therapy. But I also want to help children with cancer and autism. I’m trying to work that way into combining them both, so I’m still thinking about how I’m going to be able to do that. I was thinking about being like a pediatrician, but I want a double major for sure.
SUSAN: So you are starting out at Penn Valley and then going to transfer later on?
SHANICE: Yah, I’m on a scholarship to finish my three years at Penn Valley and then they switch me over to UMKC to finish the rest of the years of my major.
SUSAN: What overwhelms you the most? Is it just being on a national stage, is it the travel?
MAURICE: It’s preforming it with my daughter because I’ve traveled and I’ve been on national stages before. I did some very important engagements, but there’s no engagement that I have done that can compare to being on stage, before that many people, in that spotlight, than with my daughter.
SUSAN: So let’s play what if. What if you win, then what?
SHANICE: Um, if I win, if we win… Then (laughs) I don’t know, if we win then we win, we take home the bacon. We’re going to at least try to help the family out and to continue my education, and continue singing. I really want to make a career. If anything happens I’m going to try to make a career out of singing.
SUSAN: What are your thoughts about people who have said, well now after all this national attention Shanice might have to go her own way, because I’ve heard some people suggesting that?
MAURICE: I think that eventually that’s something that she may have to do. But for now, we are a vocal duo. They need to understand that this is not about me, because I’ve always had a career in music. This is really to launch a career for Shanice, and she would benefit from it a lot more than I ever could. So I kind of agree with what they are saying. There is no doubt in my mind that Shanice could be a solo performer. I would always be there for her if she was.
SUSAN: What do you think when you hear people say that?
SHANICE: Right now of course we are going to be singing together, and of course in the future eventually I will have to sing on my own. My father he’s been here all this way right by my side. And he’s training me, this whole entire time. He’s getting me ready to be on my own, because he’s already done what he wanted to do. And now it’s my time, and I don’t think they see how my father is there just guiding me and helping me along the way. But eventually yah, I’m going to have to go on my own, but right now we are a father and daughter vocal duo and we’re going to do this together.
SUSAN: Well you’ve certainly prepared well for this moment. Did that preparation kick in because you’ve done so many performances?
SHANICE: We have performed a lot, and we’ve preformed a lot on the street. And I feel like preforming on the street got me ready, well actually it’s getting me ready for anything that is coming my way. Because I’ve been through so much training with my father and so for anything in music I feel like the street has got me ready to perform.
SUSAN: Any Plaza performances planned any time soon?
SHANICE: Well last weekend we sang at the Plaza, but it really depends on the weather, because it’s been very hot.
SUSAN: So have you heard much from Kansas City fans who have seen you on TV?
SHANICE: Oh I have a lot of fans, I have a lot of supporters. I’m very thankful for the support that we’re getting from our city.
SUSAN: What are some of the comments that they’ve made that really stood out for you?
SHANICE: Some people never knew that I sang before, so some people are in shock, or they say I can’t believe such a big voice comes out of so little body. You know stuff like that, I hear that a lot.
MAURICE: I want to thank the people that have supported us thus far, that have taken the time to vote for us that keeps us in this competition. I would like to let them know that we really care and thank them and hope that we deserve their support. We don’t want people to vote for us because we are from this city. We want them to vote for us because we deserve it, because we are doing the part that need to be done to win this competition.