April 11, 2012 - While Clarkston graduate Tony Lucca was preparing for his next round in NBC's The Voice, his family and friends were in Depot Park raising support and hopefully votes.
Avrey Wisser shows support for Tony Lucca. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
Lucca was chosen by Adam Levine from Maroon 5 to continue on to the live performances where two from Team Adam would be eliminated based on votes from the audience.
"I wanted to get the word out as much as I can," said cousin, Sarah Jane. "Everyone can only do so much."
Jane, part of the Tony Lucca Street Team, was one of the many to pass out posters and bumper stickers supplied by One-Eyed Betty's to assist in getting the word out to more people and places.
"It is so exciting," she added. "It has been amazing. It has brought our family together. People I haven't spoken to since school are asking what is going on. It is bringing the community together too. I grew up in Waterford and knew people and businesses in Clarkston because our family is here. A lot of local businesses are really receptive."
Jane has also been wearing the same "Tony Lucca" T-shirt every day since March 20. She plans to continue wearing it everyday until he wins.
"I thought it would be a fun, catchy way to get attention," she smiled. "I love him. I am the biggest fan ever. I didn't realize until now what a big deal it was. I have been posting a photo every day on my Facebook. Now people are asking me where can they get a T-shirt and what will I wear next with it?"
The show premiered on Feb. 5 after the Super Bowl with his family watching ever since.
"I hosted a party and was on pins and needles," said his sister, Ami Sakalian. "We couldn't breathe. It was exciting."
Each one of the four chairs turned with the judges – Levine, Cee Lo, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton – all vying for him to be on their team during the competition.
"You want to know who is going to be the first, and it was Adam," Ami smiled. "We all had our hearts set on it. The chairs kept turning and that's what we were hoping for."
His mom, Sally, and dad, Tony, joined their daughter-in-law and grandchildren for a few of the shows.
"We were there for the battle rounds," Sally remembered when Lucca sang U2's Beautiful Day with Chris Cauley. "I thought we were going to lose it. I was so nervous I could hardly breathe. Then, Adam called his name, and it was like woooooo!"
"I felt nauseous," his dad added. "They sang well, and Adam said you both did a good job but I am going with Tony. The whole time I felt like I was throwing up. Monday night will be just as bad. I am nervous for him because he seems not to get nervous. He has toured with NSync and Sara Bareilles and has n industry contacts. And that is what it is about connections and kids voting. It is a popularity contest."
Many viewers remember and were introduced to Lucca as a former cast member of the Mickey Mouse Club with Aguilera as well as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
But family and friends know him as the musician; he always sang and comes from a family of musicians. Sally said she found him singing in a room when he was just 2-years-old.
"I went to see what he was doing," she said. "I was walking down the hall and heard him singing a song I just bought. He knew every word to every song on the album."
He started playing in a band with his cousin, Cole Garlak, when he was 12-years-old and auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club two years later.
But he was reluctant at first because he thought the audition was for something else but Ami gave him a nudge.
"We were young, and he was talented," she said. "I thought he was being a big baby that day. I said mom drove all the way down here for you. If I had the talent you do I would do it. The funny thing about it he was in there the longest. We kept seeing kids coming and going. They finally came out and said there is a chance you might have to come to Florida."
"We are looking at this as chapter two," said his dad. "This is like chapter two for him because when he was little he was a mouseketeer. He went through that for four years and then headed west for his music.The Voice is helping to break ceiling for bigger venues than in the past. It is really exciting."
He continued with music performing at small venues and clubs. Then he was asked to audition for the show last year.
"It is just such a joy to watch," Ami said. "We love watching him as a family and for everyone to see how good and talented he is. It is so exciting. We are over the moon. When we were younger we loved it. We didn't think about it – the chances we had to vacation in Florida were amazing and a gift for the whole family. Now for him, his wife and his kids to experience it - it is a joy."
"You can see the excitement," Sally added. "It started with a friend from high school; they all went to Clarkston. He got my son a job at Overtyme, and tickets sold out within 12 minutes. We just went what?! It was unheard of. There was a time he played to ten people and still played his heart out. Now we are just in awe. There have been wonderful responses."
For more information, visit www.TonyLucca.com. The results from Monday's show were broadcast Tuesday night.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.