New Castle News

Local News

July 15, 2013

Union Township’s Daniel Fusco claims 2013 Rocket to the Stars crown

NEW CASTLE — Moments before the Rocket to the Stars winner is announced, Daniel Fusco is fidgeting.

“I’m so nervous,” he says.

Someone wishes him luck.

Turns out, he didn’t need it.

Fusco was named the winner of the 2013 edition of the competition, edging out other finalist Jewel Ullrich with a 51-49 percent split of the text vote that audience members were invited to send in. This combined with the vote of the judging panel determined the winner.

Fusco, a recent graduate of Union High School, and Ullrich, a New Castle native, were the only two local competitors in Saturday night’s competition.

“We both knew, we both told each other, we didn’t care who won because finally New Castle won again,” Daniel said, “and I’m just excited about that because I think it’s the first time that two New Castle people were in the finals.”

The Union grad shared that he really didn’t expect the win.

“Before I walked on, in my gut, I honestly felt like I was going to lose. I didn’t care, it was just the moment,” he said.

Fusco was just happy to share the stage with a close friend.

“Me and Jewel, we love each other. She is like my friend forever. We met each other about a year ago for the first time, and we connect so well. I couldn’t be more grateful that I was in the top two with her.”

Show creator and host Wade Sutton said that this year’s contest boasted the highest levels of talent that the show has ever seen. He shared that the finalists in the 2013 competition had more of a challenge, having an extra elimination round to get through, but the five performers rose to the occasion.

He had no idea whose name he would be announcing at the end of the night as the Rocket to the Stars winner.

“I definitely knew he (Fusco) had a chance, any of the five had a chance. But if you would have asked me coming in to pick one, I wouldn’t have been able to. Whoever would have won, I wouldn’t have been surprised,” he said.

In winning the competition, Fusco earned a year of professional development with artist developer James Meny. In addition, he will go  to Tennessee this fall for a weekend workshop with music producer Tom Jackson.

Fusco looks forward to both prizes, sharing that his time with the Rocket to the Stars program already has helped him better his voice, and he hopes to continue that trend.

“I’m excited about the fact that I get free vocal lessons for a year because I can’t afford them, and the fact that I get those will help me tremendously,” he said. “James wants to reinvent my voice so I sing stronger and don’t lose my voice in shows.”

Fusco is looking forward to releasing a full-length album. Prior to the competition, he had been handing out mixed tapes to anyone he met. Some of his singles can be found on iTunes.

“I want to build a team, a network of people, because you can’t do it on your own,” Fusco says of producing an album. “It takes a lot of help. It takes a lot of outside people and you really have to trust those people. And to be honest, I really do trust the people I’ve been surrounded with for the past year.

“It’s something that I haven’t had before because when you’re performing at school, you’re enclosed, so this is a whole new level. You’re going out into the real world, and you have to meet real people. This is just one of those opportunities where you have to take it and run with it.”

No matter what the future holds, Fusco knows he won’t be forgetting his win any time soon.

“As of now, this is the biggest moment, and the proudest moment, of my life. I’ve never been happier than right now.”


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