Talent earns him national spotlight

Rapper: Christopher Dillard of Odenton will be performing on "It's Showtime at the Apollo" in New York City.

January 18, 2001|By Katie Arcieri | Katie Arcieri,SUN STAFF

An 18-year-old from Odenton is making a big leap, from a local fast-food restaurant to television's "It's Showtime at the Apollo," with hopes of becoming a rap star.

Christopher Dillard, a crew chief at a McDonald's on Route 175, is scheduled to perform Saturday in a taping of the show's amateur hour at the theater in New York City's Harlem for future airing on the nationally syndicated show.

He got his chance from entering the McDonald's Employee Talent Search in October. He found out about the contest from his manager, who knew Dillard liked to rap. At the audition, he performed an original piece, "Let Me See You Make It Bounce," which he said is "dedicated to the ladies who like to dance."

Dillard, who graduated last year from Meade High School, was selected as one of eight McDonald's employees from the Baltimore area to perform at Baltimore's Have a Nice Day Cafe in November, with disc jockey Marc Clarke from the 92-Q Big Phat Morning Show as host.

He won, receiving along with the TV appearance a $1,000 stipend to cover his travel and expenses. The judges were Roz Seibold, account executive at the station, 92.3 FM; Sheila Goodwin, special events manager with the Baltimore Office of Promotions; and Mark Hardy, choral director at the Baltimore School for the Arts.

"He was the last one, and he really just blew the roof off the place," said Seibold. "He had a lot of charisma and he whipped the crowd into a frenzy."

Dillard, who has rapped since he was 10, said his dream is to make it big in the business. He grew up around improvisational rapping called "freestyling," and "battling," which is competition between two rappers.

He has written 75 raps, he said. Some focus on his hardships, and some are what Dillard calls "lay back and chill music."

"Rap is what keeps me going," he said. "If I had to do it for the love and not get paid, I would do it for the love."

Dillard left for New York yesterday and was scheduled for a rehearsal before his big day Saturday. He said he's a little nervous but has been practicing daily.

"You go up there and do your thing," Dillard said. "if the crowd likes you, they clap to show you love. If they don't like you, they'll boo you off stage."

But he is guaranteed some applause: There will be four family members in the audience.

The show is to air locally on WNUV-TV (Channel 54), probably within a month of the taping, said Pete Barto, a spokesman for the Greater Baltimore McDonald's Restaurants, which arranged the promotional contest with the television show.

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