She got to the winner’s circle on a text vote. Stacy Antonel of Ocean Beach won the $10,000 grand prize at the conclusion of the first season of 3 Minutes to Stardom, a local singing competition that aired on FOX TV in San Diego. Contestants could advance via the judge’s choice (full disclosure: I was a judge) or through votes texted to the show by viewers at home.
Antonel says she paid down credit-card debt with the money, started recording some of her original songs in a friend’s studio, and gave notice at her day job at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
“And I’m buying an airline ticket to France in May.”
The win didn’t surprise her. “But I was happy. I guess I was in shock, really.” She admits that she didn’t make it through the first round of preshow auditions. “I sang ‘White Rabbit.’ I was obviously paralyzed by fear.” But she returned to Valley View Casino in Valley Center where the television show was taped, and she auditioned again. “I said, ‘I’m gonna win this thing.’”
The classically trained pianist fronts a Coronado-based pop-music band called Velvet Café. Otherwise, Antonel says she sang in high school plays but not much else. “I’ve always been a singer, just not publicly. Then, when I moved to Argentina, I fell in with a band. Electronic, like, cumbia. I could make up my own lyrics. That band is what got me over my stage fright.” She taught English there and sang on a pair of jingles, too. “I answered a Craigslist ad that wanted an American who could sing like June Carter Cash. It was for Latin American Jeep and Latin American MTV.”
Antonel moved back to the States in 2010 and began working with Velvet Café. She also tried out for another TV singing competition called The Voice. “I made it through the first round.” Then, nothing. Of the 3MTS experience, she says, “I was the one that didn’t say anything in the green room with the other performers because I was too terrified. I didn’t get to really know anyone.” Again, nerves. But she’s glad she hung in there. Is ten grand the most money she has ever earned as a musician? “Of course it is,” she says. Velvet Café gigs generally pay around $100 per musician. “Sometimes, $300 each, like, for a wedding.”
The Berkeley-trained anthropologist would like to become a successful musician. “Or I might go back to school. I used to think fame was something you achieved. But now, I don’t know. You have to keep making yourself relevant in the media. And it can turn on you, just like it turned on Lady Gaga.”