A star rose from Seaford last Sunday night on ABC’s new singing competition “Rising Star,” when 20-year-old Jesse Kinch won with 76 percent of the vote, over competitor Austin French. Kinch concluded the night by singing his favorite song from the competition, “I Put A Spell On You.”
Kinch grew up in Seaford, where he attended Island Trees High School, and he has been working toward a career in music since age 8, when he performed in shows throughout New York City and Long Island. He has been playing, with his band, alongside well-known acts such as Living Colour and Ryan Star, as well as at charity and nonprofit events. His original songs have been featured on Long Island radio, and his career will no doubt receive a big boost after his win, which included a record deal.
“I’m really happy for him. He’s been working hard for years, and he has everyone’s support,” said Leana Silipo, 20, of Seaford, who went to elementary school with Kinch. “My first-grade self is, like, jumping for joy.”
Silipo added that she always remembered Kinch being kind and outgoing in school. The two played in the orchestra together, which was where, Silipo said, she saw just how charismatic and talented Kinch was. While they lost touch after Silipo switched schools, she saw him at All American Burger in Massapequa before the competition began. “Running into him was nice, and he was a sweetheart just like always,” she said. “We were talking about a show he just played.”
Another local resident expressed similar sentiments about Kinch’s success. “I wasn’t surprised,” said Jerry Ryan, 20, of Plainview. “Even in kindergarten, he was super-passionate about guitar, and music in general.”
Ryan said that Kinch was one of his best friends growing up, and that he always saw so much potential in him.
The 10-episode reality show began airing in June. Kinch’s clinching performance on Sunday night was “Love Reign O’er Me” by the Who.
As he began gaining popularity and climbing the rungs on “Rising Star,” he showed his appreciation for his fans’ support. Many residents who knew Kinch said they were awed by his stardom, excited to see someone from their hometown become so successful and proud to have known him when he lived in Seaford.
“I want to thank my family, especially,” Kinch said after being announced the winner. “I want to thank the judges, and I want to thank anybody — anybody — who has ever had faith in me.”