Kennedy's got talent

  • Written by Claudia Parker



Photo by Claudia Parker

Evergreen Park’s Kennedy Bordeaux jumps after her “America’s Got Talent” audition in Chicago.


On the surface, a 14-year-old, African-American girl named Kennedy Bordeaux of Evergreen Park, would have little in common with superstar, singer-songwriter, Nick Jonas.

Looks can be deceiving.

Bordeaux and Jonas are both Type 1 Diabetics who wear insulin pumps.

They're both Diabetes Ambassadors working to help young people manage their diabetes.

And, they both love to sing.

Jonas is pretty good at it. He has sold millions of musical units and DVDs.

Bordeaux is getting pretty good at it, too. She hasn’t sold millions…yet. But maybe that time will come.


When Bordeaux learned NBC network's America's Got Talent (AGT) Season 10 auditions were coming to Chicago in late January, she said she wasn't going to allow the fear of failure to stop her from trying out again.


“I tried out in 2013 but I didn't make it past the first round of auditions,” she said. “I felt I did good but I guess they didn't think I was ready to compete on national television.”

Never-mind television, many would find it more nerve-wracking performing for the candid, hold-nothing-back judges, Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Melanie Brown (Mel B) and Heidi Klum.

But, not Bordeaux.

“I'm ready for it!” she said before she auditioned for AGT producers at McCormick Place, Sunday, January 25 singing, “Warrior,’’ by Demi Lavato.

That’s a song title her grandmother, Yvonne Blackmon of Chicago, said she felt embodies Bordeaux's spirit to persevere.

With a confident smile, Blackmon said, “She sounded smooth, controlled and angelic.”

Blackmon accompanied Bordeaux to her audition, along with younger sister Karsyn (10), as their parents, Clete Bordeaux, a Project Manager for SDI Solutions and Maya Bordeaux, a Human Resource Executive at McDonald's Corporation, were away on a previously scheduled birthday trip for Maya.

There are several layers to the AGT auditions, for Bordeaux, this was the first.

“They told me I'd find out by e-mail if I make the next round,” she said.

Seeing her excited expression following the audition showed she's hopeful her voice will set her apart from the numerous prospective contestants.

The AGT competition is fierce as the winner is estimated to receive a $1 million dollar grand prize. This show is one of few talent competitions open to any age and any talent. Bordeaux said being in the holding room prior to auditioning was the most fun.

“I loved watching people practicing for their audition, seeing all the different displays of talent made me less nervous.”

From the holding room, they're later categorized into their own auditioning rooms i.e. dancers, singers and magicians and they are allotted 90 seconds to perform.

“When I first stood on the X to sing, it took me a few seconds to open my mouth,” she said. “My heart was pounding so hard my stomach was moving.”

Then she poked her belly in and out displaying its range of motion.

Bordeaux is an eighth-grade student at Northeast Elementary.

“I've loved singing since I was three, but I didn't performed for an audience until I got in third grade,” she said.

Northeast Elementary offers students the opportunity to participate in an annual winter concert.

“I signed up and I remember the look of surprise across my teacher's face after trying out for a solo,” she said. “I don't think he expected to hear a voice as big as mine coming from such a small child.”

She said the concert experience at Northeast boosted her confidence to sing publicly.

“When I got to sing that solo at our winter concert, I got a big reaction from the crowd,” she said. “After that, my friends would randomly ask me to sing. As requests grew, I started posting video clips on Instagram and now, I have over 600 followers.”

Many feel the positive attention Bordeaux receives could help not just her but others as well.

She's been battling Type 1 diabetes since she was seven years old. She's under the care of Dr. Anita Swamy, endocrinologist and medical director of diabetes at LaRabida Children's Hospital.

Bordeaux said, it was Dr. Swamy who recommended her for the National Child Ambassador and

Spokesperson post she has for NovoLog, the fast acting insulin drug that goes into her insulin pump.

Jonas's diabetes advocacy has helped her accept the illness while embracing the call to help others with it. She's traveled across the United States speaking on panels and participating in marketing campaigns to help spread awareness of how people can live actively as a diabetic.

“My other grandmother, Wanda Dowdell, has a strong faith,” Bordeaux said. “She's been taking me to church at the Apostolic Church of God, since I was two. After I was diagnosed, she gave me words of wisdom that never left me. She told me, 'you may have diabetes but diabetes doesn't have you.' ”

That became the impetus behind Bordeaux's relentless refusal to allow anything to stop her from doing what she desires. In addition to singing, she's an active softball and soccer player.

No matter what the outcome of the AGT auditions, Bordeaux said: “I don't know where this road will lead but music will always be a big part of my life. I don't intend to give up on my voice or myself.”

AGT Season 10's  air date has not been set, but it's projected for May or June.