LIVINGSTON, NJ — Amanda DeFuria, a 13-year-old Livingston resident who won Food Network's “Chopped Junior” in 2016, is bringing her talents to reality television once again—this time to show off her vocal chops in a new show on PBS called "Celebration of Music" hosted by 17-year-old American singing sensation Ethan Bortnick.
At 11 years old, DeFuria won $10,000 when she appeared as a contestant on the reality cooking competition "Chopped Junior," where she competed against talented junior chefs from across the country. At the time, she said that she would save some of her winnings for college and that she also had a dream of opening her own restaurant.
Although she has been cooking on her own since age six, cooking is not her only talent. DeFuria has also been writing her own music since she was seven.
"She has an amazing voice; it will definitely take her somewhere," said actor and vocal coach Tony Mowatt. "Her voice and writing style are distinctive. There is a maturity beyond her age in both her voice and writing."
Amanda has had the unique opportunity to perform and be invited to many vocal competitions in New York City, and has won several awards. She has also performed at iconic NYC venues like the Cutting Room, the Metropolitan Room, the Leonard Nimoy Theatre and the Duplex.
Bortnick, who has previously been recognized for being the youngest person to host a solo concert, recently partnered with local PBS studios nationwide to search for the next young star. In order to be considered, contestants had to submit a video of them singing, playing, dancing or showing another musical talent.
Video clips from all the contestants will air on Aug. 25 at 6 p.m., and viewers are encouraged vote for the video featuring their favorite act.
DeFuria’s mother, Cindy DeFuria, said her daughter is "the kind of person you want to see win."
"She works so hard at her dream, and never gives up," she said. "She has such a humble kind heart, and donates her voice and time to charities, like the Brick City Rescue and Scarlet Fever. She always wants to give back."
On “Chopped Junior,” Amanda’s fellow contestants kept an eye on her, knowing that Amanda “looks really cute, but [is] really a fierce competitor.” It is likely that her competition on “Celebration of Music” will feel the same.
The winner will be announced at a live concert in Troy, NY, and will be given the opportunity to perform a solo of his or her own next year in Las Vegas. The winner of each show nationwide will also receive an invitation to attend the Los Angeles Celebration of Music National Show at the end of 2018.
The winners will then compete against each other to take home the National Winner title for this season.
According to the show's website, winners will likely be introduced to a variety of agents, managers and recording companies in Los Angeles when the time is right, and will also receive an exclusive invitation to record a professional single with Bortnick that will be available on iTunes, Spotify, etc.
Tune into the local PBS station WHMT on Saturday check out and vote for Amanda's video.