Former contestant of 'The Voice' to headline UI Dance Marathon Big Event

BY LAYLA PENA | JANUARY 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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Dance Marathon participants will be treated to a celebrity voice at this weekend’s Big Event.

Jamie Lono, a former contestant on “The Voice,” will headline the University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon event on Friday.  Lono will perform for a crowd of approximately 3,500 people, including 1,800 students, in his first visit to Iowa.

The 23-year-old musician does not have any experience with Dance Marathon, but he said that he still feels connected to the cause.

“When I was 2, I was in a children’s hospital. I had half of my lung removed,” Lono told The Daily Iowan. “So events like this that donate to something that has helped me in the past are amazing.”

Lono was a contestant on the second season of “The Voice” in early 2012. Since leaving the show, Lono has released his first EP, The Feel Good Album, and he continues to write music. Starting in February, he plans to release music on his website and promote it via his Facebook and Twitter pages.  

Lono was chosen to headline this year’s event after former manager and UI alumnus Mike Danenberg encouraged Dance Marathon committee members to consider him.

“[Lono’s] positive vibes and good energy will be fun for the kids,” Danenberg said. “The fact that they might recognize someone that they may have seen from ‘The Voice,’ like Jamie, adds a little more fun.”

Dance Marathon entertainment head Andy Kemerley took Danenberg’s advice and screened Lono’s music with friends and other leaders of the organization. When they enjoyed what they heard, Kemerley decided to invite the Chicago native to headline the Big Event.

Lono manager Dan Dicker, who was a participant in Dance Marathon at Indiana University, also encouraged him to accept UI Dance Marathon’s invitation to headline the event.

Dicker described his involvement with Dance Marathon as a great experience.

“It is a fantastic event that is very well organized, very well-executed and for a great cause,” he said.

While Lono may not be the biggest name in music at the moment, Dance Marathon event director Ben Bordeaux said his music captures the energy the organization tries to convey.

“His upbeat, soothing message and really positive music really interested me,” Bordeaux said.

“He and his band will be very interactive with the crowd, and that is really the perfect fit.”

Lono, a blues-reggae-soul-rock artist, is hopeful that the message he tries to convey through his music will resonate with Dance Marathon participants and attendees.

“The main message I try to send is hope, to keep pushing, and whenever time gets rough, to just keep moving forward,” Lono said.

“If there were only 10 people at Dance Marathon who I got to tell my story to and play for, that would still be awesome. The fact that there will probably be over 2,000 people there is really cool. I couldn’t ask for more.”

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