The fanfare of the national stage is nothing new for Eric Nikolaides.
While in high school, the Mason native performed at the International Blues Challenge, released two albums and has headlined several local gigs.
But on Tuesday, Nikolaides, 20, will take national television stage for a chance to win a $1 million grand prize on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
The 2010 Mason High School graduate will perform as part of the musical duo, Eric and Olivia. Nikolaides provides bluesy guitar instrumentals to Olivia Applegate’s vocal talents.
The two friends met last year at the University of Texas, where Nikolaides is a junior majoring in Spanish Linguistics and government and Applegate studies theatre arts and philosophy.
After performing an acoustic version of Maroon 5′s number-one hit, “Moves Like Jagger,” featuring Christina Aguilera, in January, Nikolaides and Applegate were fast-tracked to the judges’ favorites list.
Last month, the duo competed head-to-head in Las Vegas with more than 100 qualifying acts for one of 48 coveted spots in the competition’s finals. Their rendition of “What a Wonderful World,” popularized by Louie Armstrong, earned the pair rave reviews by judges Howard Stern and Sharon Osbourne.
“I believe they could be a headlining act, her voice is that strong,” Stern told judges Osbourne and Howie Mandel. “I think that it was fantastic.”
Although interested in music from an early age, it wasn’t until Nikolaides heard Blues music that he found his passion, said his father, Nick Nikolaides.
Already active in the Mason band program, Nikolaides sought out mentors in the Cincy Blues Society and with his brother, Kevin, and friend, Tim Miller, formed the band Twelve-Eight.
The group represented Cincinnati in the ’21 and Under’ category at the 2009 International Blues Challenge on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn., and has performed at the Cincy Blues Fest at Sawyer Point and Mason’s Red, Rhythm & Boom and Arts Festival.
The band has released two albums: Rosedale and Spiced and Smoked.
“We’re not surprised he’s made it this far,” said Nick Nikolaides. “He always seems to find a way to get the talent out there.”
Nikolaides’ family, who still live in Mason, plan to fly to New York to be in the audience Tuesday for the live performance.
“He’s excited, obviously, but not telling us much,” said Nick Nikolaides of Eric. “We’re just sitting back and enjoying the ride.”
The show is now down to the viewer-voting portion. Twelve acts will perform each week, but only four will go on.
Vote for Eric & Olivia after the show at www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/vote or call the number given out during the broadcast.
The NBC show is on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and Wednesdays at 9 p.m. The season finale will be Sept. 11.
Nikolaides isn’t the only Mason graduate to take the national stage. Danielle Withers, a 2002 Mason graduate, competed with the group Afro-Blue last year on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” The Howard University-based a cappella group made it to the final four groups before being ousted by judges in the penultimate round of the competition.
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