YOUNGSTOWN Effort to help daughters brings reward for mom



Her daughters will have to wait their turn. Mom's taping is scheduled for Jan. 22.
By VERONICA GORLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Yolonda Tubbs had decided to hang up her microphone and focus on getting her daughters into the spotlight.
But judges of the television show "Showtime in Harlem" had other plans for the singer.
"That's always been my dream," the Youngstown resident says. "As long as I can remember, I wanted to sing. I had just given it up. I almost feel that this is a second chance."
Tubbs, 34, auditioned for the show, formerly "It's Showtime at the Apollo," in Harlem, N.Y., so her daughters wouldn't have to try out alone. She never thought she'd actually be selected, she says.
"I was really surprised," she says. "Even though I sing, I did this for the girls. I didn't expect to go on the show."
In September, Tubbs took Prevail, a performance group made up of her daughters and their friend, 15-year-old Alexis Brown, to the Apollo Theater to try out for the show's teen competition. Tubbs and Prevail, who performed at City Fest in 2002, waited in line for seven hours in dreary, rainy weather.
Finally they were given the opportunity to get inside the theater, but only people who were auditioning could enter. Her daughters, Sonya, 15, and Terisa, 11, didn't want to go in alone, especially since some of the people were pushy and cutting in line, Tubbs says.
Fortunately, one of the songs Tubbs used to sing was on her daughters' audition tape. Tubbs' girls persuaded her to try out so her daughters wouldn't have to go into the theater alone, she says.
"I was there in a T-shirt and jeans, hair pulled back," muses Tubbs.
"I don't think they took me seriously. I didn't intend to get on. I really didn't."
Chance to perform
But her version of Whitney Houston's rendition of "For the Love of You," an Isley Brothers song from 1975, wowed her daughters -- and apparently the judges too. One month later, Tubbs received a letter from the show's producers asking her to perform on the show.
She travels to Harlem again Jan. 22 for the taping of the show, which showcases amateur talent before a live audience. Tubbs used to catch reruns of the show, which airs 4:30 a.m. Sundays on CBS, when she could, but not anymore.
"Now, I don't want to watch. I'm afraid to watch. Everybody's so good."
She's nervous because she's taking a chance with an older song that the audience may not know, she says.
"I don't care whether I win or not. I just don't want to get booed off the stage," Tubbs says.
And if she does?
"I think I'll probably laugh initially, then I'll cry," she says, laughing. "Oh my God, I couldn't come home."
Biography
Born in New Castle, Tubbs moved to Youngstown's East Side when she was 17. Now, she splits time between homes in Farrell and Youngstown, she says.
A computer-aided drafter currently laid off, she has pursued singing all her life. Some fans know her as "Ms Flossy" or "Sweet Note." She was featured on five CD compilations performed in Youngstown, Pittsburgh and Akron and won a talent show at the Youngstown Playhouse in 1999.
Tubbs has recorded an album, but she doesn't have the finances yet to complete it and put it on the market, she says.
Though Terrence Jr., 13, isn't into show-biz, Tubbs' two daughters are following in the footsteps of their mother. Eventually, Terisa plans on becoming a veterinarian, but Sonya says she hopes music will be a part of her future.
The family is still waiting for the letter from the Apollo theater announcing Prevail's turn to hit the stage.
"I'm hoping to hear something," her husband, Terence, says. "If not, we're not going to let that discourage us."

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