Katie Romes Wins Green Bay Talent Jam


Lauren Van Gheem, Staff Writer, Journalism I

“I was so surprised I won,” said Katie Romes, winner of the 2017 Green Bay Talent Jam. Romes showcased her talent as one of the 12 finalists in this year’s competition at the Meyer Theater on Saturday night.

“I thought she was the best. She definitely deserved to win. She was really good,” said Josie Sullivan, a golf teammate of Katie’s.

About 100 students auditioned for the competition. The judges narrowed that number to 30 and then to 12. The 12 finalists had to perform the same talent Saturday that they performed at the auditions.

The winner and runner up were decided by audience vote. The runner up won $500 and Romes, the overall winner, left the theater with $1000.

Two judges’ choice winners received $250 each.

“There was a lot of talent in the competition,” said Sullivan.

Romes performed one of her 30 original songs, “A Thousand Heartbeats.” Four other contestants performed original songs as well.

Romes sang while playing the piano. “I have a better performing voice when I have a piano before me. I’m more comfortable,” she said.  

Ironically, Romes had to play the piano using only three fingers on her right hand.  She had hoped to have her cast on her right hand and wrist removed for the competition, but her doctor said “no.”

“They injected cortisone shots into my wrist to keep it immobilized,” explained Romes. “When I played the piano for my performance, I couldn’t use my pinky or my thumb.”

She admitted the handicap might have given her some “sympathy votes.”  Although she said it hampered her playing, evidently it didn’t do much damage to her performance.

Romes started playing piano at the age of four or five but quit formal lessons in the eighth grade.  Since then she has been self-taught.

Romes’ choir teacher, Ms. Karen Buchinger from St. John the Baptist, inspired the song she wrote and sang.

“In middle school before our concerts my teacher would say, ‘Let’s pray that we touch at least one heart tonight,’” said Romes. “The song I sang explained why I love music.”

Romes plans to go to college and is considering a minor in musical theater or music productions. She would like to major in business or pre-med.

The idea of performing, she admits, “is always in my mind.”

“I promised myself in eighth grade that I would take a year off after four years of college to travel to California and to see what comes,” she said.

“She blew my mind with how talented she was,” said Mrs. Andrea Gilson, NDA musical director. Romes received one of the lead roles in High School Musical last year while auditioning for a minor one.

The senior said it meant a lot to her that friends and family came to the competition Saturday night.

“Katie sings all the time. I mean ALL the time. She sings in the morning, during the day, in the shower at night and sometimes even when we’re sleeping. I will never get sick of hearing her sing.  Her words have always been inspirational to me. I want to see her bring her songs and voice to more people,” said Courtney Romes, Katie’s sister.

She follows previous Notre Dame students, Charlie Urick and Ella Hunt, in winning the talent jam.  

Thomas Zakowski and Ashley Lemens contributed to this story.