FIA Showcase: Something Old, Something New

by Peter Altschul

Friends-in-Art’s Showcase of the Performing Arts has become one of the high points of annual ACB conferences and conventions. We are humbled by the support of both performers and audience members; without you, we would be, well, performing into a black hole.

Over the years, we have tinkered with the Showcase’s design to make the stars shine more brightly — and we are trying something new this year.

Something Old

Many of you might remember the FIA chorus, which used to perform arrangements by FIA members. We would like to reactivate this chorus, which we hope will open the Showcase singing “Magic To Do” from the musical “Pippin.” Also, the tune “Go Ahead Charley” is being arranged for men’s chorus (don’t worry, women, you’ll get your chance next year). A complete recording of both arrangements and your individual part are available on the FIA Showcase channel on YouTube. Come sing with us, and help bring Dwayne Estes’ arrangements to life! If interested in joining, please contact Dwayne at

Something New

For the second act of the Showcase, we will feature three visually impaired artists who are successful performing artists. The first half, however, will be structured similarly to prior Showcases; see below for guidelines. While we regret that the number of performing slots will drop from approximately 25 to no more than 15, we want the world to know that blind artists and performers are out there making money presenting their art.

Below are updated “commandments” concerning how to secure a slot in the first half of the Showcase. We especially encourage new talent, as well as those who enjoy performing folk/bluegrass, gospel, classical, and/or music from cultures outside of North America to audition.

  1. Thou shalt bear in mind that while music is the most popular mode of entertainment, all performing arts media are welcome to audition.
  2. Thou shalt know that an eight-piece “house band” WILL be available this year. Those interested in performing with the band should provide Dwayne Estes with sheet music in the key in which you want to sing. Also, bear in mind that anyone wanting to perform with the band must first audition and, if accepted, must rehearse with the band sometime between 5 and 6:45 p.m. on the day of the Showcase (Tuesday, July 7). Please contact Dwayne for additional information.
  3. Thou shalt alert us that you plan to audition either during the FIA reception or at our booth in the exhibit hall. You don’t, however, need to tell us when you’ll show up; just appear in the FIA Suite on Monday, July 6, between 3 and 5:30 p.m.
  4. Thou shalt give serious consideration to upbeat material. We tend to have a shortage of up-tempo acts, as potential performers often bring more meditative selections to the microphone. If your preference is the latter, give some thought to preparing an upbeat backup.
  5. Thou shalt understand that variety is key to achieving a successful show. Therefore, we usually judge within genre: that is, voice accompanied by piano performances will be compared to each other, while dramatic readings will be judged against other dramatic readings.
  6. Thou shalt keep in mind that language in Showcase presentations should respect the presence of both children and adults. The FIA Showcase is considered family entertainment.
  7. Thou shalt come well prepared. Polish and flair will capture the attention of the audience, and go a long way toward ensuring your place in the show.
  8. Thou shalt not use pre-recorded tracks.
  9. Thou shalt be aware that a sighted accompanist will be available to play from a printed musical score; however, if you don’t have a printed score, at least one of us is able to improvise accompaniments to show tunes, jazz standards, gospel hymns, and a limited repertoire of classical music. Please contact Dwayne with questions.

Audition Procedures

Everyone, including those who have told us previously of their interest to audition, must alert us that you plan to audition either during the FIA reception or at our booth in the exhibit hall. We’ll need your name, where you live, the title and composer of the selection you are planning to perform, and your hotel room number. Then just show up in the FIA Suite on Monday, July 6, between 3 and 5:30 p.m. While getting in touch with one another is always difficult at conventions, we plan to inform all performers of audition outcomes between 10 p.m. and midnight on the day of the auditions. 
If you need further information, or have questions not addressed in this article, contact Dwayne Estes at